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US & Taliban agree to potential peace framework

The United States and Afghan Taliban have agreed on a draft framework to establish peace in the conflict-driven country Afghanistan. For more than 17 years has the conflict between the US, Afghanistan, and the Taliban persisted.

US negotiators held talks with the Taliban in Qatar over the past six days. Till now, the Taliban have refused to directly negotiate with the Afghan government whom they see as “puppets”.

Though, to dim the blow of this agreed peace framework, analyst clarified that it could be years until any successful peace treaty would be reached.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad briefed Kabul about the talks.

He told the New York Times that "We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement…" adding that Taliban had also agreed to prevent Afghanistan being used as a base for terror groups.

In return for a potential ceasefire and the commitment by the Taliban to directly negotiate with Kabul, the USA is considering to withdraw its troops fully.

Conversely, the Taliban say they will only initiate dialogues with Kabul when a date for the withdrawal of US troops has been set.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a fresh plea to the Taliban to talk directly to his government on Monday.

He said that freedom could be lost to the Taliban once they would gain more power. Especially, women rights activists have voiced concern due to the brutality towards women during the Taliban regime.

"We are committed to ensuring peace," he said. "But there are values which are non-negotiable, for example, national unity, national sovereignty, territorial integrity a powerful and competent central government and basic rights of the citizens of the country."

According to President Ghani's office, Mr Khalilzad denied that there had been any debates with the Taliban about future governance arrangements in Kabul.

In the interview by the New York Times, Mr Khalilzad said the Taliban had assured not to give terrorist groups like al-Qaeda safe haven - a key demand by the US if it is supposed to pull out troops.

"The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals…" he said.

The US had solely released a list of tweets regarding the talks – saying that it has made "significant progress" without providing any specific details.

A senior Taliban official who attended the peace negotiations said that both sides had agreed to form two committees to draw up specific plans on how to implement agreements focusing on two key issues:

  • When will US-led forces be withdrawn from Afghanistan?
  • A commitment from the Taliban that it will not allow international terrorist groups like al-Qaeda use Afghanistan as a base in the future

The Taliban official added that the committees would "identify routes for the withdrawal, and how much time is needed. We suggested six months, but are flexible".

Last Friday, President Ghani reckoned that more than 45,000 members of Afghan security forces had been killed since 2014. 

 

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