Published: Tue, July 09, 2019

US envoy hails Taliban talks as 'most productive'

US envoy hails Taliban talks as 'most productive'

He said Washington's "aspiration" is to have that framework in place by September 1 and ahead of the Afghan presidential election.

"We want to go to the dialogue but they are not letting us", Stanikzai said to an officer, who replied: "We are not joking with you, stop shouting at us". His remarks come amid the ongoing backdoor talks between the United States and theTaliban in Doha, Qatar, which entered their fifth day on Thursday.

The meeting is intended as a first step toward opening talks between the Taliban and government officials, which the insurgents have so far rejected.

The seventh round of Afghan peace talks between the USA and the Taliban are paused in Doha for two days as a group of Afghan politicians and civil society activists hold the intra-Afghan dialogue at the same venue. 'This conflict will only end when Afghans, all Afghans, sit together andwork through the differences that have fueled the conflict, that driven theconflict for so many years.

The blast in a crowded area of Ghazni city was the latest in a wave of near-daily attacks by the Taliban, who now hold sway over about half of Afghanistan and continue to intensify attacks on Afghan forces despite increased efforts towards a peace agreement to end the 18-year war.

Khalilzad said US and Taliban negotiators have also made progress on a cease-fire deal and discussed the conditions in which foreign forces will be reduced and eventually withdrawn from the country. Since then Khalilzad has held scores of talks with the Afghan government in Kabul and overseas, with the Taliban as well as with Afghanistan's neighbors - including Pakistan which has been accused of aiding the insurgents.

"We think the gap between the USA and Taliban is narrow now".

The veteran US diplomat has also been touring the region in an attempt to gain support for the peace process in Afghanistan.

"There is still important work left to be done before we have an agreement", he said, adding the ongoing peace talks will resume on July 9 after the intra-Afghan dialogue.

Around 70 delegates are attending the two-day gathering which has been organised by Germany and Qatar.

"The Taliban should know that they can not gain leverage by the killing of civilians", Ghani said in a statement.

Suhail Shaheen, the spokesman for the Taliban's office in Qatar, said they were pleased with the discussions so far.

But some officials feared the latest attack, which took place while leaders from Ghazni and other provinces were beginning their first-ever meeting with Taliban officials - would have a dampening effect on the dialogue.

A senior Taliban official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said ensuring the protection of the rights of women and minorities would be discussed in the Doha talks, which have been facilitated by German and Qatari officials.

Although both sides have emphasized that members of Afghan government are attending in their personal capacity, not representing Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's government, their presence makes this conference different from the intra-Afghan conference in Moscow in April.

"We believe they are very near".

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