US Envoy Khalilzad Calls for Faster Progress in Talks With the Taliban in Qatar

‘[F]aster progress’ is needed in negotiations with the Taliban, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation said on Friday in a series of tweets following the end of another round of discussions between both sides that was held in the Qatari capital of Doha.

The negotiations between the US and the Taliban to find a possible peaceful solution to the Afghan conflict, which has been going on since summer last year, is in its 7th round, with Khalilzad leading six of them.

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the Deputy Head of Taliban’s Political Office in Doha, has been heading the talks for the militant group.

Khalilzad said slow but steady progress was made in the discussions, the pace of which is not sufficient given the bloodshed and the ongoing conflict in the war-torn country, Afghanistan.

Khalilzad’s comments comes just two days after a Taliban attack on a US backed aid group in Kabul killed nine, including three staff members and injured 20 others.

The attack on the development organization, Counterpart International, was condemned by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo among others on Thursday who called on the Taliban to stop deliberately targeting civilians.
This is while the Taliban on the other side also said the talks in Doha made good progress on some issues while others need to be discussed further in future meetings.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement on Thursday said the round of talks were, “positive in general and both sides listened to each others views with patience.”

The discussions between the Taliban and the US continue as the militant group refuses to enter direct talks with the Afghan government who they deem as a “puppet regime.”

A Loya Jirga ‘Grand Assembly’ where some 3,200 delegates gathered from across the country for a five-day dialogue on identifying the red-lines for possible peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire to begin with the holy month of Ramadan.

The call was denied by the militant group who instead launched a series of deadly attacks across the country, including one on the Baghlan provincial police headquarters and another in Kabul leaving scores of casualties.

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