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article imageTaliban annoyed at US added demands prior to peace talks

By Ken Hanly     Jan 25, 2020 in Politics
President Trump has recently demanded that the Taliban unconditionally agree to a "reduction of violence" before peace talks on Afghanistan can even commence. This has frustrated the Taliban who were annoyed by additional US demands.
The Taliban have accused Trump of wasting time.
Trump continues to add further requirements to restart peace talks
Last October Trump cancelled talks that had reached the point of agreement in principle. He cancelled the talks he claimed because the Taliban had carried out a raid in which a US soldier was killed. However, there was no ceasefire in force so both sides had been continuing the battle no doubt with the hope of gaining leverage in the negotiations.
Initially, Trump demanded the addition of a ceasefire to any peace deal even though negotiators warned this could be a hard sell. However the Taliban did agree to that. Now he has gone further and added that there must be a reduction of violence even before the talks begin that would end with the ceasefire.
Preliminary talks bogged down defining "reduction in violence"
A recent AP article
reports : "In their late Thursday commentary, the Taliban accused Washington of “wasting time” and said the talks with Khalilzad had become bogged down over a definition of “reduction of violence.” The tone was surprisingly harsh following earlier optimistic tweets from Taliban political spokesman Sohail Shaheen who hinted the insurgents and Khalilzad were close to an understanding."
The Taliban has apparently agreed to a reduction in violence but what exactly this entails has not been outlined if it is even agreed upon. Amnesty International weighed in on the issue saying the matter was absurd with both sides guilty of attacks that harmed civilians. They said it was absurd to pretend that there was some acceptable level of violence that should exist before talks begin. Since the talks will also negotiate a ceasefire the best way to reduce the level of violence would be to hurry and reach an agreement.
Negotiations with the Afghan government
As well as an agreement between the Taliban and the US, there also needs to be negotiations between the Taliban and Afghans. The Taliban will not negotiate directly with the Afghan government because they regard it as a puppet of the US but will negotiate with Afghans who are part of the government but not in their official capacity.
However, the Kabul government has yet to agree as to who will be on their negotiating team: "The Afghan president’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said that Ghani has a small team ready to negotiate but bickering has marred efforts to cobble together a team that anyone other than Ghani loyalists can agree upon. Ghani’s political opponents say they have been consulted but that their suggestions have been ignored."
The Taliban control or predominate in roughly half of Afghanistan. They continue almost daily attacks that target both US and Afghan forces. US forces often provide air support for Afghan forces sometimes causing civilian casualties. Roadside bombs planted by the Taliban also often kill civilians.
More about Taliban US relations, Afghanistan, Donald trump
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