KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – America and the Taliban have sketched the outlines for an eventual peace accord to finish 17 years of battle in Afghanistan, a U.S. particular envoy mentioned on Monday, however there was no signal the rebel group had accepted key U.S. calls for.
“We now have a draft of the framework that must be fleshed out earlier than it turns into an settlement,” U.S. particular peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad informed the New York Instances in an interview in Kabul after six days of talks with the Taliban.
“The Taliban have dedicated, to our satisfaction, to do what is important that might forestall Afghanistan from ever turning into a platform for worldwide terrorist teams or people.”
There was no signal, nevertheless, that the Taliban had agreed to U.S. calls for equivalent to committing to a ceasefire earlier than the withdrawal of U.S. troops or that it interact in direct talks with the U.S.-backed authorities in Kabul, analysts mentioned.
“Whereas the progress in Doha has been essentially the most important so far, reaching a ultimate settlement is way from assured, as (these) two main sticking factors may nonetheless derail the method,” Ahmad Majidyar, a fellow on the Center East Institute, wrote on the Washington suppose tank’s web site.
One other U.S. official in Kabul, who spoke to Reuters on situation of anonymity, described “important progress” within the talks in Qatar, however mentioned extra negotiations had been wanted on the problem of the timing of the ceasefire, which looms as a sticking level within the subsequent spherical of talks on Feb. 25.
Taliban negotiators need a full withdrawal earlier than a ceasefire, however the Individuals need the reverse, the official mentioned.
“In fact we don’t search a everlasting army presence in Afghanistan,” the official mentioned.
“Our purpose is to assist convey peace in Afghanistan and we want a future partnership, newly outlined with a post-peace authorities,” the official mentioned. “We want to depart legacy.”
U.S. forces in 2001 toppled the nation’s hardline Islamic leaders for harboring the al Qaeda militants accountable for the Sept. 11 assaults that killed about three,000 folks.
A senior Trump administration official who additionally spoke on situation of anonymity mentioned the Taliban must agree to speak to the federal government in Kabul to make a long-lasting deal.
“The president has made clear that his precedence is ending the battle in Afghanistan with an settlement that ensures the nation by no means once more serves as a base for terrorists to assault the U.S. or another nation,” the official mentioned.
“To attain such an settlement, the Taliban should interact with different Afghans and all sides should conform to resolve their variations via peaceable means,” he added.
Taliban officers have repeatedly refused to speak to the Afghan authorities, which they regard as a U.S. puppet, throwing into query how efficient a peace deal could possibly be. The Taliban do need, nevertheless, to affix an interim authorities post-deal.
NO PLANS YET
A State Division spokesman mentioned that whereas the talks had been “optimistic,” no settlement was reached and “various points stay on the desk … together with an intra-Afghan dialogue and complete ceasefire.”
“These are integral to a negotiated political settlement,” mentioned the spokesman on situation of anonymity.
Appearing U.S. Protection Secretary Patrick Shanahan informed reporters outdoors the Pentagon he had been briefed on the talks however had not been requested to plan for a full withdrawal of troops.
“It’s encouraging,” Shanahan mentioned of the talks. Requested whether or not he had been tasked with planning a whole withdrawal from Afghanistan, he mentioned: “I’ve not.”
Regardless of the presence of U.S.-led international forces coaching, advising and helping their Afghan counterparts, the Taliban management almost half of Afghanistan and stage near-daily assaults in opposition to the federal government and its safety forces.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani mentioned final week that 45,000 members of the nation’s safety forces had been killed since he took workplace in 2014.
A U.S. official mentioned in December that President Donald Trump was planning to withdraw greater than 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the most recent signal of his thinning persistence with America’s longest battle and abroad army interventions. Trump final month determined to tug U.S. troops out of Syria as properly.
Each U.S. officers and the Taliban hailed progress after the talks with Khalilzad ended on Saturday. Taliban sources informed Reuters that america had agreed to withdraw international troops inside 18 months of the signing of a pact, however the U.S. official mentioned a timeline was not mentioned.
The U.S. troops in Afghanistan are a part of a NATO-led mission and a U.S. counterterrorism mission largely directed at teams equivalent to Islamic State and al Qaeda.
Some eight,000 troops from 38 different international locations are collaborating within the operation, referred to as Resolute Assist.
Reporting by Rupam Jain in Kabul and Phil Stewart in Washington; Extra Reporting by Rupam Jain and Abdul Qadir Sediqi and Steve Holland; Writing by Greg Torode and Arshad Mohammed; Modifying by Mary Milliken, Sonya Hepinstall and Peter Cooney