U.S., Taliban resume talks as Afghan govt seeks role in peace process

May 1, 2019 12:33
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Breaking news. (photo credit: JPOST STAFF)

KABUL - American and Taliban officials resumed talks in Qatar to end a 17-year war in Afghanistan on Wednesday while the Afghan government hosted a rare assembly in Kabul to ensure its interests are upheld in any peace deal.

Afghan representatives were not allowed to attend the sixth round of U.S.-Taliban talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the insurgent group."There will be no other side except the US and Taliban representatives in the meeting, but some Qatari officials will remain present as hosts," he told Reuters.

The talks are part of President Donald Trump's efforts to end America's longest war, which began when US-backed forces ousted the Taliban weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Since October, US and Taliban officials have held several rounds of talks aimed at ensuring a safe exit for US forces in return for a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by militants to threaten the rest of the world.

In this round, US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and his delegation are expected to focus on a declaration of a ceasefire as a first step to end the fighting, said a western diplomat in Kabul.

An official working closely with Khalilzad said he is expected to encourage the insurgent group to engage in Afghan-to-Afghan talks to find a political settlement to end the war.

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