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10 January 2019, 05:39 | Darnell Patrick
Taliban, US to sit down to peace talks
So far, the Taliban have refused to talk to representatives of the Afghan government, though they have attended peace talks hosted by Russian Federation and some other regional countries.
The U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, tweeted that reports of U.S. -Taliban talks on Wednesday were "inaccurate" and added: "Taliban should talk to fellow Afghans as much as they talk to media".
"The U.S. officials insisted that the Taliban should meet the Afghan authorities in Qatar and both sides were in disagreement over declaring a cease-fire in 2019", he said.
Speaking at a ceremony in Kabul, marking the 17th anniversary of the ratification of Afghanistan's Constitution, the CEO reiterated that the Taliban can only join the peace talks under the umbrella of the Afghan government. "The meeting will continue for two days", a senior member of the Taliban said on condition of anonymity.
In 2017, US President Donald Trump increased the number of his country's troops in Afghanistan as part of a new strategy against the Taliban.
They said they demanded the release 25,000 prisoners and they would free 3,000 but the United States were not ready to discuss that.
"We would never announce any ceasefire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground".
The talks, which would have been the fourth round with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, would have involved a USA withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of Taliban leaders, a Taliban leader had told agencies.
The U.S. embassy tweet said RAND's work was independent of the U.S. government and did not represent U.S. policy.
The militants said they called off the talks because of an "agenda disagreement", especially over the involvement of officials from the Western-backed Afghan government as well as a possible ceasefire.
Acknowledging the instability and the threat of a resurgent Taliban, highly placed sources said that the Taliban dominated Afghanistan is a security threat not only to Iran and India but is an existential threat to Pakistan. We had official security dialogue last week in Tehran. "But if that leadership of the Afghan state is not recognized and is not given value, then we may face a serious challenge", he added.
"The United States supports the desire of the Afghan people and the global community for a political settlement that ends the 40-year conflict and ensures Afghanistan never again serves as a platform for worldwide terrorism".
The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months.
He said that a peace process in which the rights of the citizens of Afghanistan are sacrificed has no credibility and that no one maintains the right to change the name of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
In 2001, Iran worked with the United States to help set up a new Afghan government to replace the Taliban, which had been toppled by a US -led military campaign following al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on USA cities.
The Afghan government says only Afghans are authorised to discuss a peace deal with the Taliban and decide on the future political system. It has cost Washington almost a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people. It keeps around 14,000 troops there as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants.
There are indications that Pakistan is pushing the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Kabul government to resolve a long-standing conflict in Afghanistan, Arab News quoted head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council as saying on Wednesday.
The United States, which sent troops to Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington and at the peak of the deployment had more than 100,000 troops in the country, withdrew most of its forces in 2014.
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