Taliban official says group spoke with US official

Hannah Rogers
July 30, 2018

A solution to ending the 17 year long war in Afghanistan may be closer than ever before, as Taliban leaders praise direct talks with the U.S.

Shifting gears on Afghanistan, the Trump administration has reportedly asked American-backed Afghan troops to retreat from sparsely populated areas, a move that would ensure the Taliban will remain in control of vast stretches of the country.

They involved several members of the Taliban political commission and Alice Wells, the State Department's senior South Asia diplomat, as well as other unidentified USA diplomats, according to the two Taliban officials.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the Taliban official further added that the talks were held in a "very cordial atmosphere and both sides had useful exchanges", he added.

There are reports that two other meetings have taken place but this could not be confirmed.

US diplomat Alice Wells
Image Alice Wells is said to have met militants to pave the way for peace talks

Although the Taliban resumed its bloody attacks on Afghan security personnel after the three-day truce ended, pictures taken during the ceasefire of Taliban fighters and Afghan security forces taking selfies hugging each other astonished the country's population. The Taliban insists the US, and not the Afghan government, has the authority to determine a timetable for all American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops to withdraw from Afghanistan. The insurgents have always demanded negotiations with the United States as a precondition to any peace talks while the American military is still in Afghanistan. As stated by the Taliban, we can expect more and more such meeting between the US, Afghanistan and the Taliban for purposeful dialogues.

It was not clear when the next meeting would be held or with whom, but the Taliban official who spoke out was certain one would be held.

In Kabul, the Afghanistan President's office, ARG, on Saturday welcomed any support for peace efforts.

At the time the direct talks, which the Taliban also said would be restricted to US concerns about the movement and troop withdrawal, was to be followed by talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

His release was eventually secured in May 2014 in exchange for the five Taleban prisoners, who are living in Doha.

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