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Afghan Taliban say will hold fresh talks with US officials in UAE on Monday

Press TV – December 17, 2018

The Afghan Taliban militant group says it is set to hold a fresh round of talks with US officials this time in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite earlier reports that suggested the meeting would take place in neighboring Pakistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a Twitter post that delegates from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE will also attend Monday’s discussions.

The militant group has already held two meetings with US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar.

The latest round was held last month at the Taliban’s political headquarters in the country, where the Taliban said they failed to reach any agreement with the United States, citing dissatisfaction with a deadline set by Khalilzad to end the war.

The militant outfit issued a statement last month, demanding the lifting of sanctions against its leaders, the release of prisoners and the recognition of its office in Qatar.

The Taliban, however, have so far refused to deal directly with the government in Kabul, which they consider as “illegitimate.”

The militants also view the presence of foreign forces, including those of the US, in Afghanistan as the main obstacle to peace. They have said they are open to negotiations on issues such as mutual recognition with the Afghan government, constitutional changes and women’s rights.

Kabul, on the other hand, is strongly opposed to any recognition of the Qatar office, which was established at the request of Washington in 2013 to “facilitate peace talks.”

The Taliban’s latest announcement came despite earlier reports that the new round of talks could take place in Pakistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had said Saturday that Islamabad facilitated the new round of discussions at Washington’s request.

Khan’s announcement prompted a reaction from the Afghan government, with its Foreign Ministry hailing the move as Islamabad’s first practical step towards the peace process in Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end in the wake of a US-led invasion in 2001, but 17 years on, the militant group continues to flex its muscles against the government and the foreign troops remaining on Afghan soil.

Since the onset of the US-led invasion, Afghanistan has never been as insecure as it currently is.

The Taliban have strengthened their grip over the past three years, with the government in Kabul controlling just 56 percent of the country, down from 72 percent in 2015, a recent US government report showed.

Taking advantage of the chaos, the Takfiri Daesh terror group has also established a foothold in the war-torn country.

Having failed to end the militancy campaign, Washington has over the past months stepped up its political efforts to secure a truce with Taliban.

December 17, 2018 - Posted by | Illegal Occupation | ,

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