US officials, Taliban to discuss withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan

The United States has agreed to discuss the withdrawal of troops stationed in Afghanistan during a meeting with the Taliban officials in Qatar, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday.

Saturday’s discussion between the Taliban leaders and US Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad circled around the Taliban’s conditions to bring an end to the 17-year conflict in the war-torn country, two Taliban officials told Al Jazeera.

“Six US officials arrived in Doha to have a meeting with our leaders,” the Taliban officials said and added that it was a preliminary meeting and all issues were discussed in general, but not in great detail.

In addition to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban’s conditions include the lifting of sanctions on its leaders, the release of their fighters imprisoned in Afghanistan, and the establishment of an official political office.

Taliban leaders will continue to meet for discussions with the newly appointed US special envoy for peace efforts in Afghanistan, the Taliban said on Saturday.

“Both sides spoke (about) an end to the occupation and a peaceful solution to the Afghan issue … Both sides agreed to continue meeting in the future,” Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement.

A senior member of the Taliban said Khalilzad had asked the Taliban leadership, based in Doha, to declare a ceasefire in Afghanistan during upcoming parliamentary polls.

“Both sides discussed prospects of peace and the US presence in Afghanistan,” said another Taliban official, requesting anonymity.

Last year, US President Donald Trump increased the number of US forces in the country as part of a new strategy against the Taliban.

The Taliban had previously said the presence of foreign troops was the biggest obstacle to peace in Afghanistan.

Saturday’s meeting was the second meeting between the Taliban and US officials in Qatar. The first meeting took place in July and was attended by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells.

This story originally appeared in Al Jazeera


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