Wed, 12 Dec 2018
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No breakthrough achieved after Taliban-U.S. meeting in Qatar

By Sheetal Sukhija, Lebanon News
20 Nov 2018, 04:10 GMT+10

KABUL, Afghanistan - The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad met the leaders of the hardline group, Taliban at their political headquarters in Qatar, but at the end of the three-day meeting, no agreement was struck.

Khalilzad, who declared a deadline of April 2019 to end a 17-year-long war that has torn apart Afghanistan, failed to receive any commitments from the insurgent group.

On Monday, Taliban announced that it had held discussions with the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan over engaging in peace talks, but clarified that the talk ended with no agreement.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement that leaders of the group met Khalilzad at their political headquarters in Qatar for the second time in the past month.

He said in a statement, These were preliminary talks and no agreement was reached on any issue."

Further, three Taliban officials confirmed that Taliban leaders had not accepted any deadline set by the U.S. to wrap up talks.

So far, the U.S embassy in Kabul has not made any official comments.

Meanwhile, the security situation in Afghanistan continues to decline as Taliban insurgents continue to intensify their battle to reimpose strict laws in the country.

The country is suffering an unprecedented level of casualties as Taliban steps up attacks on the beleaguered Afghan security forces.

Earlier this month, the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani revealed that the death toll among Afghan soldiers and police is nearing 30,000 since the start of 2015.

The figure left several nations shocked since it is far higher than anything previously acknowledged.

According to officials, the spate of attacks has turned deadlier since 2014, when NATO formally ended combat operations in the country.

According to a recent report released by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), the NATO mission in Kabul has confirmed that this summer's toll had been worse than ever for Afghan forces.

The meeting between the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat, Khalilzad and Taliban was the second Taliban-U.S. meeting in two months.

On Sunday, Khalilzad, who has been authorized by the U.S. President Donald Trumps government to lead peace negotiations with the militant group said he hoped to cut a peace deal with the group by April 20.

His meeting with the group in Doha came after his visit to Kabul following a second round of regional meetings with top government officials aimed at coordinating efforts on ending the war.

However, Taliban said on Monday, "We want to reassure our Mujahideen and Muslim nation that the representatives of the Islamic Emirate will never agree to anything that does not adhere to Islamic principles."

The U.S.-set deadline to end the war coincides with the date set for the critical presidential elections in Afghanistan.

However, on Monday, a senior Taliban member said that Khalilzads strategy to declare a deadline showed how desperate the U.S. was to withdraw foreign forces.

The Taliban member clarified, Taliban leaders have not agreed to any deadline because we are winning on all fronts."

Further, Khalilzads public statement made over the weekend angered the insurgent group since the U.S. official said that the Taliban believe they will not win militarily.

Taliban warned U.S. officials against mixed messages that could muddle the peace process.

A senior Taliban member in Afghanistan said, We were astonished to see Khalilzads statement in Kabul on Sunday. He wrongly quoted us, saying that the Taliban admitted that militarily we would not succeed."

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