US and Taliban resume talks on ending America's longest warfare

FILE – On this Might 28, 2019 file picture, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s prime political chief, third from left, arrives with different members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia. U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban have resumed negotiations on ending America’s longest warfare. A Taliban member mentioned Khalilzad additionally had a one-on-one assembly on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, with Baradar, the Taliban’s lead negotiator, in Qatar, the place the rebel group has a political workplace. (AP Picture/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A United States envoy and the Taliban resumed negotiations Thursday on ending America’s longest warfare after earlier signaling they had been near a deal.

A Taliban member conversant in, however not a part of, the talks that resumed in Qatar mentioned U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad additionally met one-on-one Wednesday with the Taliban’s lead negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The Taliban member spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of he was not approved to speak with reporters.

native affiliate of the Islamic State group, which claimed duty for a suicide bombing at a Kabul wedding ceremony over the weekend that killed at the very least 80 folks.” data-reactid=”43″>Baradar is without doubt one of the Taliban’s founders and has maybe the strongest affect on the rebel group’s rank-and-file members. Some in Afghanistan worry that Taliban fighters who reject a take care of the U.S. might migrate to different militant teams such because the brutal native affiliate of the Islamic State group, which claimed duty for a suicide bombing at a Kabul wedding ceremony over the weekend that killed at the very least 80 folks.

That assault once more raised fears amongst Afghans {that a} U.S.-Taliban deal will convey little peace for long-suffering civilians who’ve died by the tens of 1000’s previously decade alone.

The U.S. and the Taliban have held eight earlier rounds of negotiations previously yr on points together with a U.S. troop withdrawal, a cease-fire, intra-Afghan negotiations to observe and Taliban ensures that Afghanistan won’t be a launch pad for international terror assaults.

Beforehand, Khalilzad has mentioned the intra-Afghan negotiations would be the event to work out thorny points resembling constitutional reforms, the destiny of the nation’s many militias and even the identify for Afghanistan, because the Taliban nonetheless refers to it because the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

It was not instantly clear when a deal is perhaps reached. President Donald Trump, who needs to convey dwelling at the very least among the 13,000 troops he says stay in Afghanistan earlier than subsequent yr’s election, was briefed on the negotiations Friday.

This week, Trump mentioned it was “ridiculous” that U.S. troops have been within the nation for nearly 18 years. Two U.S. service members had been killed on Wednesday, becoming a member of greater than 2,400 U.S. service personnel who’ve died for the reason that U.S.-led invasion in 2001 to topple the Taliban, whose authorities had harbored al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

Trump this week additionally mentioned Afghanistan stays harmful and “now we have to have a presence” — a stance that would complicate talks with the Taliban, whose prime demand has been the departure of all U.S. and allied troops, which quantity near 20,000. A Taliban spokesman mentioned the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, was on the negotiations in Qatar on Thursday.

The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their fight mission in 2014, however American and allied troops stay, conducting strikes on the Islamic State group and the Taliban and dealing to coach and construct the Afghan navy.

The prospect of a troop withdrawal has created widespread concern that one other civil warfare in Afghanistan might observe as numerous armed events jostle for energy.

Afghanistan was the world’s deadliest battle in 2018, and the United Nations has mentioned extra civilians died there final yr than previously decade. Over 32,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan previously 10 years.

The Taliban, which now management roughly half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since their 2001 defeat within the U.S.-led invasion, have dismissed the Afghan authorities as a U.S. puppet however have repeatedly supplied talks with anybody who involves the desk as an strange Afghan.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday evening asserted that his authorities will see the ultimate draft of a U.S.-Taliban settlement for a “complete dialogue” earlier than it’s signed.

Afghanistan won’t be considerably affected even when 5,000 U.S. forces go away within the subsequent 5 months, an possibility that has been beneath dialogue, he added in a nationally televised interview.

Khalilzad, who plans to fulfill with the Afghan authorities in Kabul on this journey, has expressed his need for an settlement by Sept. 1, lower than a month earlier than Afghanistan’s presidential election. Ghani, who seeks a second time period, has insisted the vote should happen to provide the federal government a robust mandate to take care of the Taliban.

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Related Press author Kathy Gannon reported this story from Guelph, Canada, and AP author Cara Anna reported in Kabul. AP author Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.’

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This story has been corrected to distinguish the position of NATO from the position of the U.S. and allies.

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