Talks with Taliban focus on four key issues to end the Afghan war: US

Vastavam web: The US has said the ongoing negotiations with the Taliban are focused on four interconnected issues, including counterterrorism and troop withdrawal, that will be key for any future agreement to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan. A high-powered American delegation led by Special US Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has been holding marathon meetings in Doha, Qatar with a high-level Taliban team led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The talks have been going on for several days to finalise a draft agreement on a potential foreign troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and to end the 17-year war in the country. Responding to a question, Palladino said talks were going on and more work needs to be done.

“We’re focused on this. We have private diplomatic conversations that are occurring, and we want to give all the parties time to work out these issues. Special Representative Khalilzad is engaging on this on a daily basis right now, and progress is being made,” he said. Since his appointment in September, Afghanistan-born Khalilzad has met with all sides in an attempt to end America’s longest war in which the US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in more than 17 years.

The Taliban control nearly half of Afghanistan, and are more powerful now than they were at any time since the 2001 US-led invasion after the 9/11 terror attacks. During the talks held in January, the Taliban signalled their seriousness by appointing Baradar as their chief peace negotiator.

Baradar, one of the four top commanders who formed the Taliban in 1994, was released from jail last year by the Pakistan government. He is believed to be the highest ranking Afghan Taliban prisoner freed so far.

He held several senior positions in the Taliban government before its fall in 2001 and once considered the most influential Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar. The Taliban announced last week the talks with the US were making “a steady progress” and vowed to remain engaged in the process until achieving results. “The current round of talks in Doha are advancing on a step-by-step basis. As the issue at hand is immensely crucial and delicate, it’s progression is taking place with that much care and vigilance,” Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

“The masterminds of the 9/11 attack are no longer capable of carrying out such an attack from Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011, and Al Qaeda has been all but eliminated from Afghanistan,” it says. “Endless war weakens our national security, robs this and future generations through skyrocketing debt, and creates more enemies to threaten us. For over 17 years, our soldiers have gone above and beyond what has been asked of them in Afghanistan. It is time to declare the victory we achieved long ago, bring them home, and put America’s needs first,” said Raul.

It is Congress that has failed to conduct the proper oversight of this nearly 18-year war. Now, we must step up, and listen to the American people – who rightly question the wisdom of such endless wars, Udall said. The last year was the deadliest for civilians in Afghanistan, with 3,804 civilian deaths reported in 2018, according to the United Nations.