Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Wednesday stated that on 18th February, Taliban negotiators would be meeting US negotiators in Pakistan’s Islamabad in order to speed up diplomacy and bring an end to the 17 years of war in Afghanistan. However, a representative of US State Department in a statement stated that the US didn’t receive any invitation for such discussion.
The discussions come a week before the formerly scheduled negotiations between the two sides in Qatar on 25th February.
Mujahid stated that still the Qatar discussions would be held on 25th February as planned. He even stated that his side would also conduct meeting with Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan and would consider extensive discussions about the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
He even stated that the Taliban delegates would be meeting the US team; however, he didn’t mention anything about meeting the team head, US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad is scheduled to be in Pakistan before the Qatar discourse as part of a six-nation swing through Europe and the Middle East as he tries to generate support for endeavors to conclude America’s longest war.
However, the hawkish Islamist movement and the United States called progress after the end of the last round of discussions in Qatar last month but Western diplomats familiar with talks stated that many rough obstacles lie ahead.
The U.S. side is supposed to press hard for a truce between Taliban rebels and foreign-backed Afghan forces before any accord on the pullout of U.S.-led foreign troops.
Taliban officials stated that they wish all foreign troops to withdraw before a truce, but would still accept non-military foreign assistance to re-construct the nation.
Western diplomats stated that Washington is also looking for more intricate details on fresh guarantees from the Taliban that it won’t permit Afghanistan to be used by groups like Al-Qaeda and Islamic State to carry out strikes on the United States and its allies.