US to seek ceasefire with Taliban in Doha talks | Pakistan Today

US to seek ceasefire with Taliban in Doha talks

The Obama administration will seek Taliban’s agreement on the ceasefire between Mullah Omar-led insurgents, NATO forces and Afghan National Army (ANA) in the war-torn Afghanistan during the forthcoming US-Taliban talks to be held soon in Doha, Qatar.
For the ceasefire in Afghanistan, the United States (US) is most likely to seek help of Pakistan to persuade the Taliban leadership for the purpose, diplomatic circles said on Wednesday.
Pakistan, they said, had also played an important role in facilitating the upcoming peace talks between Washington and Taliban in Qatar and the formal opening of a Taliban office there.
“The US authorities, as they declared, would discuss the exchange of prisoners and breaking of ties with al Qaeda on part of Afghan insurgents, with the Taliban negotiators but there foremost objective would be on seeking Taliban agreement on ceasefire in Afghanistan,” a source told Pakistan Today. He said US authorities felt the ceasefire with Taliban would help a withdrawal of American troops and other foreign forces from Afghanistan and once that objective was achieved, it would also facilitate talks on other contentious issues.
He said Pakistan in the past released over two dozen Taliban detainees to facilitate the Afghanistan reconciliation process and in future too, it could set free more such prisoners as a part of its plan to support efforts for peace and stability in the war-torn neighbouring state.
The formal announcement by US on entering into direct peace talks with the Taliban came from the White House on Tuesday soon after the formal opening of a Taliban office in Qatar’s capital. It was also made public by US officials that the first meeting between American representatives and Taliban negotiators was likely to take place during the next week. However, some media reports on Wednesday suggested that these talks would commence on Thursday (today).
The Taliban had set up their diplomatic presence in Doha back in January 2012 and there had been informal discussions between their representatives and US officials on important issues like exchange of prisoners etc.
It is expected that the talks happening now would be more formal in nature, focusing on key issues like the future government of Afghanistan and the Taliban share in it, and presence of American-led foreign troops in the country.
However, the sudden announcement by Karzai administration in Kabul that it was suspending security talks with Washington in protest over the title “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” being used by the Taliban for their office in Doha is likely to cast a negative impact on proposed US-Taliban talks.
Earlier, President Karzai, himself had announced to send his delegates for negotiations with Taliban representatives in Qatar but only a day later his administration said they would suspend key security talks with US, which were meant to determine the presence of US troops in Afghanistan in future.
Another diplomatic source said the Afghan president was actually angry over the direct peace negotiations between the US and Taliban and his reported annoyance over the title that the Taliban had chosen for their office in Doha was not the real cause.
Meanwhile, Pakistani foreign office welcomed the announcement of the opening of a Taliban office in Doha for the purpose of bringing peace to Afghanistan and the region. “Pakistan also welcomes the start of direct peace talks between the US and the Taliban,” said a foreign office statement.
“Pakistan has long called for a peaceful and negotiated solution to the Afghan conflict. It has repeatedly urged an early end to the war in order to re-establish peace and security in the region,” it further said.
The foreign office said Pakistan had played a constructive and positive role in helping accomplish the important milestone in support of a peace process for Afghanistan. “It is ready to continue to facilitate the process to achieve lasting peace in Afghanistan in accordance with the wishes of the Afghan people,” it said. A Pakistani official, when contacted, said Pakistan was fully willing to do whatever it could to facilitate the peace dialogue in Afghanistan. However, he also said any peace talks between Washington and the Taliban would be a long drawn process involving difficult and complicated negotiations.
“It would be naïve to expect early results from negotiations being held for peace in Afghanistan and all sides would be required to show patience and a high level of maturity,” he said.

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