An official of the US Department of State says that the ongoing Afghan peace talks in Qatar are focusing on four key issues and that both sides are trying to reach a final agreement.
Robert Palladino, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, told reporters at a press conference that this time both the US and the Taliban teams are authorized teams and that there are people from other US authorized departments the combination of the United States negotiators including some members of the Department of State.
The US team, he said, is led by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban team is led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, head of Taliban’s Qatar office.
Palladino said the talks are focused on post-peace deal counterterrorism efforts, intra-Afghans talks, US forces withdrawal and ceasefire and that both sides have to work out how to reach an agreement in this regard.
“Right now, we are in the process, meeting with the empowered Taliban delegation led by Mullah Baradar and that is taking place in Doha and is being led by Special Representative Khalilzad. That is going on right now and we have several agencies that are part of that from the United States’ government. These discussions are ongoing and what they are focusing on are the four interconnected issues that are gonna compose any future agreement and those four are counterterrorism, troop withdraws, intra-Afghan dialogue and a ceasefire,” said Palladino.
Palladio said there are some private discussions ongoing between the US team and the Taliban.
“We have private diplomatic conversations that are occurring, and we want to give all the parties time to work out these issues,” Palladino added.
Sayed Akbar Agha, a former member of the Taliban, meanwhile, said the issue of the US forces withdrawal has made the talks complicated.
“The foreigners are trying to remain in Afghanistan until the time mentioned in the security agreement between Kabul and Washington to show that they did not fail in Afghanistan. But the Taliban say that they should leave within one year. So far, they have not reached an agreement in this regard,” said Akbar Agha.
In the meantime, the US Department of State has said that the State Secretary Mike Pompeo might visit Qatar to give a helping hand in the Afghan peace talks.
“Pompeo’s possible visit to Qatar shows the US’s commitment over the peace talks. If he engages the talks and meets with Mullah Ghani Baradar, a serious peace discussion will begin between them and it will be in the benefit of the country,” Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a university lecturer said.
Pompeo also has said that he might visit Qatar and hope that Khalilzad makes progress until then.
“I am hoping he [Khalilzad] makes enough progress and I can travel there in a couple of weeks and help move it along a little bit myself,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo also has said that the Afghan peace talks is a very complicated negotiation and added that considering the roles of the regional actors, the negotiations even become more complicated.
Meanwhile, sources say that the US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan Gen. Scott Miller who was in Qatar has left Doha.
According to the sources, recently Mullah Abdul Manan Omari, brother of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the founder of Taliban has joined Qatar talks.
This is the fifth round of US-Taliban talks which have entered its sixth day.