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Differences still exist in Qatar peace talks: Sources

Differences still exist in Qatar peace talks: Sources

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Sep 01, 2019 - 18:16

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): Differences still exist between Talibaninfo-icon and US negotiators over the use of word ‘Emirate’ and presence of foreign forces in Afghanistaninfo-icon, credible sources in Doha, Qatar, said Sunday.

The ninth round of negotiations between the US and the Taliban representatives ended in Doha on Friday night.

The two sides were expected to reach an agreement in the latest round of negotiations, but the US representative for Afghanistan’s peace process, Zalmay Khalilzad, left Doha for Kabul before signing a deal with the Taliban.

Taliban spokesman for their Qatar office, Suhail Shaheen, in his twitter account said they made significant progress in talks with the US.

“We have successfully ended this round of talks and both sides agreed that technical issues will be done today 2pm with US team,” he tweeted earlier today.

On the other hand, Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted, “We have concluded this round of talks with the Taliban in Doha. I will be traveling to Kabul later today for consultations.”

According to reports, Khalilzad would arrive in Kabul today and would share information with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani about the agreement.

Some difference could be also felt in today’s tweets of Khalilzad and Shaheen as the Taliban mentioned progress in the talks while the US side only mentioned conclusion of the negotiations.

On the other hand, some credible sources in Qatar said that the talks between the US and the Taliban concluded without any agreement.

A well-placed source in Qatar said the Taliban did not agree with the US that their intelligence and military forces would be present in Afghanistan.

On the other hand, the Taliban emphasized their previous name, Islamic Emirates, should not be removed from their movement while the US opposed it -- the reason why the ninth round of talks ended without an agreement, the source said.

It said the Afghan presidential election was approaching and both sides tried to reach a deal before the election, but failed. “If they reach an agreement, the Taliban would engage in intra-Afghan talks and election would be suspended,” the source said.

The differences between the US and the Taliban widened after US President Donald Trump made some statements about permanent intelligence and military presence in Afghanistan.

The source in Doha said Trump’s statements about Afghanistan negatively affected negotiations and disheartened Taliban representatives.

Dr. Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a lecturer at Kabul University and peace activist, was hopeful about the talks and said general issues were agreed and problems remained in only minor subjects.

Recent statements in Washington created some doubts about the US intention to withdraw forces from Afghanistan and as a result bargaining over the agreement lengthened, he said.

Zaland said Khalilzad was expected to sign an agreement in Qatar next week for paving the way for intra-Afghan talks.

Sayed Khalid Sadat, another peace activist, also said that there were still differences over withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan between the US and the Taliban.

“Americans are trying to play a game with the Taliban, they want to take the military power from the Taliban and join them with the government and some of them would joint Daesh or Islamic Sate (IS) later,” he said.

The Taliban understood the US trick and there were serious differences over withdrawal of US forces and they might not reach an agreement soon, he said.

He said internal differences between Taliban leaders in Qatar and the group’s fighters were another problem that could cause the talks to become longer.

Taliban representatives in Qatar agreed with the US to have three military bases in Afghanistan while fighters of the group did not agree with the idea, Sadat said.

Shafiq Hamdard, a military affairs expert, said Donald Trump’s unstable decisions and statements were contrary to the US’s long-term policies and strategies.

“Trump presses Khalilzad that they should have an achievement in the negotiations, Khalilzad also hurried to make a deal with the Taliban without thinking about it, the agreement is probably finalized,” he said.

However, he said the situation would turn worse after the agreement as the US only thought about its own interests.

Mds/ma

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