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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 33 New Delhi August 3, 2019

Gains in Doha Afghan Talks

Saturday 3 August 2019, by Harish Chandola

Some progress appears to have been made in talks on Afghanistan being held in a posh Qatari hotel sometime ago to solve the 40-year old complex conflict in Afghanistan, where the Taliban at the moment controls much of the countryside. The talks, adjourned briefly, will resume.

The Taliban have assured that their men would not attack schools, hospitals and bazars. The Afghan Government has said it would try to stop killing civilians. The Taliban had recently attacked government buildings in Ghazni and Kabul. They do not recognise the Afghan Government in Kabul, which they call illegitimate and a puppet. But that the two sides are talking is a sign of progress. The Taliban said they were meeting the Afghan Government leaders in a personal capacity.

The Americans want to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan and are trying to find a way to do so.

The Taliban say they cannot negotiate for anything less than a strictly Islamic system in the country

In Doha the Americans and the Taliban discussed counter-terrorism assurances, American troop withdrawal and a ceasefire.

The American negotiator to the talks, Mr Khalilzad, said his country would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan but would continue relations with the country.

The Taliban chief negotiator, Abbas Stametszaki, said the two sides have finalised a draft agreement which they would review and sign. Its contents were not disclosed.

The Doha conference on Afghanistan was attended by 60 American and Taliban delegates.

The author is a veteran journalist with wide knowledge of developments in countries like Afghanistan as well as those in West Asia and the Arab world.

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