Taliban claims it held preliminary peace talks with U.S. official over Afghanistan – National

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ISLAMABAD — The Taliban held their first direct contact with a U.S. official in a preliminary dialogue about future peace talks on Afghanistan, a senior official with the rebel group stated Saturday. It marked some of the important developments amid efforts to discover a negotiated finish to the nation’s protracted battle.

The official described as “helpful” a gathering with Alice Wells, the U.S.’s high diplomat for South Asia, earlier this week. He stated the assembly was held within the small Center Jap nation of Qatar, the place the Taliban have maintained a political workplace since 2013.

“The atmosphere was constructive and the dialogue was helpful,” the Taliban official instructed The Related Press on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not licensed to talk to the media.

U.S. officers neither confirmed nor denied a gathering befell. Nevertheless, Wells was in Doha, the Qatar capital, this week. In an announcement following her return, the State Division stated solely that Wells had been in Doha, had met with the ruling household and “the USA is exploring all avenues to advance a peace course of in shut session with the Afghan authorities.”

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Any talks a couple of future political setup can be between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities, the assertion stated.

The Taliban have lengthy demanded direct talks with Washington, saying they don’t wish to discuss politics with the U.S. however as a substitute meet head to head to debate Washington’s issues — notably its safety issues — concerning the Taliban and Taliban involvement in Afghanistan’s future. Additionally they say they need a timeframe for the withdrawal of the roughly 15,000 U.S. and NATO troops nonetheless in Afghanistan.

It wasn’t clear when the following assembly can be held or with whom, however the Taliban official who spoke to The AP was sure one can be held.

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A former Taliban minister and ex-head of their political committee, Aga Jan Mohtism, who has maintained shut contacts with the rebel group, additionally confirmed a gathering in Doha between U.S. officers and the Taliban befell earlier this week.

“The Taliban wish to clear up their issues with the People to finish the invasion,” he stated.

The Taliban have argued that the Afghan authorities can’t act unbiased of Washington. Additionally they say that until they’ll allay U.S. issues concerning the group, an settlement with Kabul can be meaningless.

Throughout the Taliban’s five-year rule that ended with the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, chief Mullah Mohammed Omar stated no matter no matter concessions they agreed to, together with permitting ladies to attend college, it could not achieve them worldwide recognition so long as the U.S. refused to just accept them.

The present management, most of whom are Mullah Omar’s contemporaries, nonetheless consider their future in Afghanistan may be assured provided that the USA’ issues are addressed.

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Till now, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s nationwide safety crew has stated it is able to maintain talks with the Taliban at any time and that their allies, together with the USA, ought to take part solely as observers.

In Kabul on Saturday, Shah Hussain Murtazawi, deputy spokesman for Ghani, repeated the federal government’s oft-stated place that peace talks must be “Afghan owned and Afghan led, any help the allies present (can be in) a supportive position.”

Murtazawi didn’t remark instantly on the assembly in Doha or say whether or not Ghani’s authorities was conscious that the assembly had been held.

A earlier try at direct talks between Washington and the Taliban in 2013 additionally in Doha, was scuttled when then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai objected to the Taliban calling its workplace the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — the identify of its authorities — and flying the flag the motion flew after they dominated Afghanistan.

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On the time the direct talks, which the Taliban additionally stated can be restricted to U.S. issues concerning the motion and troop withdrawal, was to be adopted by talks between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.

There was additionally a suggestion on the time that the talks would come with the liberty of 5 Taliban held within the U.S. jail at Guantanamo Bay and the discharge of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. His launch was finally secured in Might 2014 in alternate for the 5 Taliban prisoners, who’re residing in Doha.

Related Press writers Rahim Faiez in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.

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