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U.S.-Taliban Talks Extended from Two to Four Days ... and Counting

Jan. 24, 2019 (EIRNS)—Al Jazeera reported today that talks between U.S. and Taliban officials in Qatar have been extended from two to four days with the two sides trying to establish a mechanism for a ceasefire in the 17-year Afghan war and open dialogue with the Afghan government.

U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s meeting with Taliban representatives was originally scheduled for two days, and its unexpected extension was a positive sign, according to two senior Taliban leaders in Afghanistan who have been kept informed of the progress made in Qatar, Al Jazeera reported.

Al Jazeera added that during the first two days, the talks focused on a roadmap for the withdrawal of foreign forces and a guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used for hostile acts against the United States and its allies, according to one of Taliban leaders. “The mechanism for a ceasefire and ways to enter into an intra-Afghan dialogue were the two other big topics that were supposed to be discussed” on Thursday, Jan. 24,” the unnamed official told Reuters.

There is no doubt that discussions in the current round are taking place at a much higher level than previous talks. One likely reason is that prior to the current meeting, Khalilzad had visited Afghanistan and its neighbors India, China, and Pakistan, and knows the views of these important regional countries on what could be, or should be, the role of the Taliban in the future set-up following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The Taliban are also aware that without the help of these regional countries, its role in Afghanistan will remain undefined.

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