KABUL (Reuters) – U.S. and Taliban negotiators are near an settlement that would scale back combating and permit full peace talks amongst Afghans, a high U.S. official stated on Sunday, a day after rebel forces stormed the strategic northern metropolis of Kunduz.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks throughout a debate at Tolo TV channel in Kabul, Afghanistan April 28, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat overseeing negotiations for Washington, stated he would journey to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday for consultations after wrapping up the ninth spherical of talks with Taliban officers in Qatar.
“We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country,” he stated in a Twitter submit.
The remark got here a day after a serious present of power by tons of of Taliban fighters who overran components of Kunduz, a metropolis they’ve twice come near taking in recent times, setting off a day of gunbattles and air strikes to drive them again.
Khalilzad gave no particulars of the deal, which is predicted to see hundreds of U.S. troops withdrawn from Afghanistan in trade for ensures by the Taliban to not enable the nation for use as a base for militant assaults overseas.
“We will now discuss these developments with our own leadership, while Zalmay Khalilzad is supposed to go to Kabul and inform the Afghan leadership about the decisions made in the peace talks,” stated a senior Taliban chief aware about the talks.
The settlement wouldn’t by itself finish the combating between the Taliban and Afghan safety forces, however would enable the beginning of so-called “intra-Afghan” peace talks, that are anticipated to be held within the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
However it was not clear whether or not the Taliban would agree to speak straight with the Western-backed authorities of President Ashraf Ghani, which they think about an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.
Some Taliban officers have stated they might solely agree to speak to Afghan officers in a personal capability, not as representatives of the state, and so they stay against presidential elections scheduled for Sept. 28.
It was additionally unclear whether or not the settlement would cowl the complete withdrawal of all 14,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan or how lengthy a pullout would take.
More than 20,000 overseas troops are within the nation, most serving as half of a NATO-led mission to coach and help Afghan forces. Thousands of U.S. troops are additionally engaged in a separate counter-terrorism mission combating militant teams similar to Islamic State and Al Qaeda.
Suicide bombings and fight operations have continued all through the talks and the combating in Kunduz underlined the vulnerability of massive components of Afghanistan, the place the Taliban management extra territory than at any time since being overthrown by a U.S.-led marketing campaign in 2001.
Taliban fighters, who management massive components of the encircling countryside, stormed the town within the early hours of Saturday, seizing massive areas, together with a hospital, earlier than Afghan safety forces backed by air strikes pushed them again.
Reporting by James Mackenzie, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Editing by Clarence Fernandez