Taliban sources report progress on troop withdrawal


–Taliban in a statement said the Doha talks are advancing gradually due to their important nature

KABUL: The US negotiators and the Taliban members have reached to some kind of agreements on the modality of foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan and the guarantee that Afghanistan’s territory is not used as a threat against other countries, Taliban sources familiar with the talks said.

In the past two days, the two sides have worked on the details of these agreements and there is a possibility that the negotiations will extend, the sources added.

But the Presidential Palace said the final agreement on any topic relevant to peace will be determined by the Afghan government.

“Whatever is agreed, it is agreed only between the Afghan government and the Taliban and then the document becomes implementable,” said President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.

The fifth round of Qatar talks entered their third day on Monday after they were suspended for two days aimed at “extensive” discussions and consultations on issues relevant to the negotiations. The two sides are reportedly bargaining on the nature of foreign forces withdrawal and the assurance by the Taliban that threat will not be staged from Afghanistan’s soil against a foreign nation.

“The talks have diverted to minor issues from general matters and of course discussions about the details will take some time,” said Wahid Muzhda, a political affairs analyst in Kabul.

“The agreements have been finalized,” said Hassan Haqyar, an analyst. “Now they [the US and the Taliban] are working on the text [of an agreement]. We hope that the agreement will be finalized in the near future.”

Sources aware about the Doha talks said that this time the two sides are taking part in negotiations alongside their technical teams and teams will provide suggestions to their negotiators about how to implement the decisions.

On Sunday evening, the Taliban issued a statement, saying that the talks in Doha are advancing on gradually due to the “crucial and delicate nature of the issue”.

“The current round of talks in Doha are advancing on a step-by-step basis. As the issue at hand is immensely crucial and delicate, its progression is taking place with that much care and vigilance. The talks in January saw an agreement regarding the withdrawal of ‘occupying’ forces and preventing Afghanistan from being used against others, but this round of talks is about the details and nature of these two issues,” the Taliban said in a statement on Sunday.

The four main topics of US-Taliban talks in Qatar have been US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, ensuring that Afghanistan’s territory is not used as a threat to any other country, a comprehensive ceasefire and direct talks with the Afghan government. This was confirmed by the Afghan government as well as by sources ahead of the talks.

This comes after the Afghan government, which has been out of these talks due to the persistent refusal by the Taliban, on Saturday called on Afghan politicians and people from different layers of the society to introduce their delegates for a national and inclusive negotiating team which will conduct peace talks on behalf of Afghans.