USA envoy hopes for peace deal with Taliban

USA envoy hopes for peace deal with Taliban

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations.

The Taliban held talks with U.S. officials in Qatar on ending the Afghan conflict last week, the militants confirmed Monday, but said no agreement was reached on "any issue". In October, Khalilzad held the first round of peace talks with Afghan leaders.

Ambassador Khalilzad cautiously expressed optimisms regarding the reconciliation between the Afghan government and Taliban and said he expects a breakthrough until April of 2019, qatar news agency reported.

In a lengthy statement issued earlier this month, the Taliban had demanded the lifting of sanctions against the group's leaders, the release of prisoners and the recognition of their office in Qatar.

But there are growing fears that any progress towards peace could be derailed by the April 20 presidential election, which is expected to be fiercely contested and marred by violence.

"The Afghan government wants peace", he said. "Taliban leaders have not agreed to any deadline because we are winning on all fronts", he added.

President Donald Trump harshly criticized the 2014 prisoner exchange, and in a speech last August pledged to send in additional USA forces and redouble efforts to defeat the Taliban.

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The U.S. administration now appears focused on reaching a political settlement with the Taliban, and has given in to a number of the group's longstanding demands, beginning with the holding of direct talks.

The Taliban have strengthened their grip over the past three years, with the government in Kabul controlling just 56 percent of Afghanistan, down from 72 percent in 2015, a USA government report showed this month.

The rate at which Afghan forces are dying has long underscored the fragility of the country's security situation, the Taliban's continued strength and raised questions about United States claims that the Afghan troops are becoming an increasingly effective fighting force.

Abdul Sattar Sirat, an ethnic Tajik and Islamic scholar, was suggested as a candidate to lead an interim administration.

"We were astonished to see Khalilzad's statement in Kabul on Sunday". He is expected to press Ghani to cobble together his own negotiating team, which could prove hard given the deep divisions within the government.

Taliban leaders had not accepted any deadline set by the United States to wrap up talks, three Taliban officials added.

Dunford said that while there would never be a "military solution" on its own to bring peace to Afghanistan, the USA and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners were working to leverage military, political and economic pressure to convince the Taliban it was in their interest to negotiate a political solution to the crisis with the government in Kabul.

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