Taliban official claims talks with US in Doha resolve differences

Posted Aug 7, 2019 by Ken Hanly
The much-anticipated talks in Doha, Qatar between the US and the Taliban have ended. A Taliban official has claimed that they and the US have resolved differences on US troop withdrawal and Taliban promises to cut ties with terrorist groups.
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban
US has made no formal announcement
A recent article reports: "The two sides have been meeting for the last two days, and technical teams were continuing discussions on Tuesday in Doha. The Taliban official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the negotiations."
The Taliban official's statement lacked specifics and was made anonymously, but the US did not make any formal announcement either. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said that the two sides had made "excellent progress". This has been said several times after earlier meetings.
No final agreement reached yet
There had been suggestions that this round of negotiation could end in the announcement of a deal. However, even if the talks are still progressing as claimed there is as yet no final agreement. It was hoped that a deal could be reached by the beginning of September.
Deal may not come until after the Afghan presidential election
The Taliban have asked their fellow Afghans to boycott next month's presidential election and even warned them to stay away from election rallies as they could become potential targets. The Taliban have carried on their struggle against the Afghan government that they regard as a puppet of the US.
The government has been more or less sidelined from any official participation in the peace process. The Taliban wants to ensure a deal for US withdrawal is completed before negotiations takes place with Afghans. The Taliban have called the Sept. 28 election a sham. It has been repeatedly delayed because of security and organizational concerns. The present president Ashraf Ghani who is seeking a second term is one among more than a dozen candidates.
Taliban insist on dealing with Afghans in their personal capacity
An article near the end of July shows the Taliban position. Abdul Rahimi, the Afghan Minister for Peace Affairs, said that a 15-member government delegation would meet with the Taliban in Europe, but without elaborating. A Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that there was no agreement on such a meeting and it had not been coordinated with the Taliban. He claimed that once the Taliban reached an agreement with the US than they would be open to intra-Afghan talks but the government representatives would be only in their personal capacity.
Although the wording is a bit different, the US position appears to coincide with that of the Taliban: "U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, appears to share that position. He tweeted that another round of "intra-Afghan" talks would occur "after we conclude our own agreements." He said it would include the Taliban and "an inclusive and effective national negotiating team consisting of senior government officials, key political party representatives, civil society and women.""