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Taliban: Afghanistan Talks End, Both Sides To Consult

12 Aug 2019 Radio Free Europe

The United States and Taliban will consult their leaders, following an eighth round of peace talks on August 12 to end the nearly 18-year old war that has reached a stalemate, the Taliban said as cited by Reuters.

Held in Qatar, the talks have given rise to hope that U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan in exchange for the country not being used as a haven for militants and a base from which terror attacks abroad are staged.

"It was long and useful, both sides decided to consult with their leaders/seniors for the next steps," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

U.S. officials didn’t immediately comment.

However, Zalmay Khalilzad, the special U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, tweeted on August 11 that “leaders on all sides of the war in Afghanistan must take this [the celebration if Eid al-Adha (the Festival of Sacrifice)] to heart as we strive for peace.”

In a separate tweet, Khalilzad said: “I hope this is the last Eid [al-Adha] where Afghanistan is at war.”

President of the Western-backed government, Ashraf Ghani, appeared to question the deal on August 11, saying his nation would decide its future, not outsiders.

Ghani insisted that peace was only possible "between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban movement."

"Our future cannot be decided outside, he said, adding: “The fate of Afghanistan will be decided here in this homeland. We don't want anyone to intervene in our affairs."

The Taliban has so far refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, calling it a “puppet regime.”

On August 6, the militants denounced the upcoming September 28 presidential vote as a "sham," and warned fellow Afghans to stay away from campaign rallies and the polls, saying such gatherings could be targeted

Washington has said it wants a peace deal finalized by September 1, and some U.S. officials have hinted at the possibility that the presidential polls could be canceled in the event of a peace settlement and the formation of an interim government that the Taliban would join.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan and Reuters

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