A senior former member of the Taliban says the U.S. delegation and Taliban representatives are expected to discuss withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in their next meeting.
On Sunday, Reuters reported that a meeting has taken place between a senior U.S. diplomat and Taliban representatives in Doha, capital of Qatar which ended with very positive signals.
According to the report, the meeting has happened between a U.S. delegation led by Alice Wells, deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and Taliban representatives in a hotel in Doha, last week.
The report noted that the talks had been held without the presence of Afghan government officials.
Citing a Taliban official, Reuters also said that the talks took place with the approval of the leadership council. The two sides had discussed proposals to allow the Taliban free movement in two provinces where they would not be attacked, an idea that President Ashraf Ghani has already rejected. They also discussed Taliban participation in the Afghan government.”
“The only demand they made was to allow their military bases in Afghanistan,” the Taliban official told Reuters.
Following the meeting, Sayed Akbar Agha, a senior former member of the Taliban told Ariana News on Monday that the U.S.-Taliban delegation would discuss the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan and some other key related issues.
“This meeting was the beginning of [the U.S. and Taliban] official meetings. Based on our information, in the next meeting the withdrawal of American forces would be discussed,” he said.
Citing a source, Reuters also reported that the United States had pressed the Taliban side to accept the ceasefire offer for Eid-ul Adha, often known in Afghanistan as Eid-al Qurban, which this year starts on August 22.
“So a long-term ceasefire is expected on Eid-ul Adha,” the source told the new agency. “Both sides agreed upon the continuation of the meetings and talks and another meeting is expected before Eid, but the exact time and place is not clear yet.”
Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council said the U.S. contacts with the Taliban could pave way for direct peace talks with the militant group. The council’s spokesman Ehsan Tahiri told Ariana News that they are hopeful of seeing practical steps towards the beginning of official talks with the Taliban soon.
This comes as the Taliban has repeatedly rejected talks with the Afghan government and called for direct talks with the United States while the U.S. officials have emphasized on an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.