Taliban Meets Khalilzad, Qatari Official in Doha
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan’s Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Qatar Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani met with Taliban negotiators and their deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha on Monday evening.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)_This meeting follows Khalilzad's recent visits to Kabul and Pakistan. In Kabul, the US envoy shared a proposed draft for Afghan peace with Afghanistan’s political leaders.
A Taliban spokesman in Doha, Mohammad Naeem, said: “The implementation of the Doha agreement, the current situation of Afghanistan and the ongoing process of the #Intra-Afghan negotiations” were discussed at the meeting.
In Kabul, key Afghan political leaders held talks on Sunday to discuss two upcoming conferences on Afghanistan peace.
Some negotiators of the Afghan republic and the Taliban are still in Doha and are continuing their meetings, according to one negotiator. However, according to analysts, there has been no progress in these meetings.
“The attitude in favor of negotiations is much better than in the past,” a republic negotiator Ghulam Farooq Majroh said on Sunday. “We will continue our efforts to achieve good results.”
Concerns are growing over the country’s future--both on the political and security front-- as the May 1st deadline to withdraw all US and foreign troops--called for in the US-Taliban agreement--draws closer.
The commander of US Central Command, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, has said that fighting in Afghanistan will intensify sharply and Taliban militants could threaten major cities unless a Biden administration diplomatic push to end the 20-year conflict yields results in the next two months.
Quoted by the Los Angeles Times, the US general said: “If we withdraw and no deal was made with the Taliban, I think the government of Afghanistan is going to be in for a very stiff fight to retain possession of towns and cities.”
Meanwhile, quoted by Reuters, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Javid Ahmad said that the Afghan peace talks should be rotated to other venues, accusing the Qatari hosts of failing to push hard enough for the Taliban to reduce violence.
He said that peace talks should not be held in one fixed location, but rotate among venues in Europe, Asia, the Middle East or Afghanistan itself.
The Taliban, which opened an office in Qatar in 2013, were too “comfortable” there, he said, as quoted by Reuters. “We want the Taliban to get out of their comfort zone.”