US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad announced on Twitter that he concluded the round of talks with the Taliban in Doha. “The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides”, he added.
Khalilzad expressed that peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire. He clarified that in January talks, the two sides “agreed in principle” on these four elements and are now “agreed in draft” on the first two conditions.
It was also clarified that once the agreement in draft about a troop withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.
“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed”, Khalilzad conceded in his statement on Twitter.
The Taliban issued a statement to brief on the talks as well and announced that two issues were looked after and created a draft for-US troop withdrawal as well as preventing Afghan soil from hosting terror activities and groups. The Taliban clarified that no agreement has been reached on the issues of ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks in which they interact with the Afghan administration.
Meanwhile, the spokesperson to Afghan President Ghani, Haroon Chakhansuri announced on Twitter in response Khalilzad’s statement that the Afghan government welcomes US efforts at peace process. He added “we hope to witness a long term comprehensive ceasefire with Taliban” and hope for direct negotiations with the group to begin soon.