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The US-Taliban deal is expected to be signed in Doha on Saturday which comes after the 18-month gruelling talks resulting in the imminent agreement under which foreign troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban have agreed not to allow the Afghan soil to be used against any other country…reports Asian Lite News

US-Taliban peace deal signing date to be announced soon. by .
US-Taliban peace deal

A six-member Afghan government team has arrived at Doha in Qatar where they will meet Taliban members after the militant groups signs the long-awaited peace deal with the US, sources said.

In a statement on Thursday, the Presidential Palace called the team “a group to establish initial contacts” with the Taliban and they were meeting with the militant group at their request and also of the US, reports TOLO News

This meeting will be the first between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The agreement will herald as marking the start of a hopeful new era for Afghanistan to end its 40 years of bloody invasion and civil war.

Part of the US-Taliban agreement was the release of 5,000 prisoners, about which the Washington government wanted a meeting between the militant and representatives of the Afghan government, the sources said.

BRUSSELS, June 28, 2019 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper attends a press conference after a NATO defense ministers meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on June 27, 2019. The two-day NATO defense ministers meeting closed on Thursday. (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng/IANS) by Zhang Cheng.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (Xinhua/Zhang Cheng/IANS)

The Afghan government had reservations about sending the team to meet with the Taliban only about prisoners, but it was unclear whether the Taliban would be willing to discuss other issues as well with the team, TOLO News quoted the sources as further saying.

The US-Taliban deal is expected to be signed in Doha on Saturday which comes after the 18-month gruelling talks resulting in the imminent agreement under which foreign troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan. In return, the Taliban have agreed not to allow the Afghan soil to be used against any other country.

Also on Saturday, the governments of Afghanistan and the US are expected to issue a joint declaration to emphasize the American commitments for Kabul.

US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are expected to be in Kabul for the announcement of the declaration.

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi will attend the signing ceremony on Saturday. The invitation was extended by Qatar’s Ambassador to Pakistan Saqr bin Mubarak Al-Mansouri in a meeting with Qureshi at the Foreign Office, reports The Express Tribune.

The US-Taliban deal will lay the ground for a crucial intra-Afghan dialogue focusing on the future of Afghanistan and a permanent ceasefire.

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Shah Mahmood Qureshi

The peace deal was negotiated between the two sides over the past 18 months in Doha.

A seven-day “reduction in violence” pact came into effect on February 22 in Afghanistan a day after the US and Taliban announced the signing of the peace deal which will allow the withdrawal of the remaining 13,000 American troops the war-torn country in return for a guarantee by the militant group that they will not allow Afghan soil to be used again by any terrorist organisation.

Following the announcement, Qureshi had said that Pakistan and Qatar played a key role in brokering the peace deal, The Express Tribune reported. He said Pakistan always maintained that solution to Afghan war lies in reconciliation.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Robert O’Brien has said that the US would be unlikely to sign an agreement with the Afghan Taliban should the latter fail to comply with a reduction of violence deal.

AFGHANISTAN-HELMAND-MILITARY OPERATION by .
Afghan security forces take part in a military operation in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (Xinhua/Abdul Aziz Safdari)

“If the Taliban does not live up to their agreement on the reduction of violence plan, then we’ll take a very careful look at it, and I think it’d be unlikely that we’d sign a peace treaty,” O’Brien said during an interview with CBS News.

“We’re not going to reduce troops to a level below what is necessary to protect American interests and our partners in Afghanistan,” he added.

Peace talks between bothe the countries began in 2018 but have been interrupted at least twice after Taliban attacks on US military personnel in September and December last year.

The war in Afghanistan is the longest one in US history. The death toll of US service members has surpassed 2,400 since the country invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Trump has long grumbled about the US military presence in Afghanistan that started in 2001, calling it “ridiculous.”

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