Political Parties Call For A Ceasefire To Ensure Durable Peace; US, Taliban Make Progress In Doha Talks;

Political Parties Call For A Ceasefire To Ensure Durable Peace

By Sayed Sharif Amiri

Tolo News
25 August 2019
Representatives of two mainstream political parties in the country on Sunday said that a potential peace agreement between the US and the Taliban will not lead to sustainable peace in the country unless there is an agreement on a ceasefire.  

Top negotiators from the US and the Taliban continued their talks for the fourth day on Sunday where they are discussing key topics, including reduction of violence and the nature of the presence of US intelligence after a possible peace deal.

“Any agreement without a ceasefire and without clarifying the future of the Taliban fighters will not lead to durable peace,” said Abdullah Qarloq, deputy head of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan also called as Junbish-e-Milli party.

“If the issue of ceasefire is not addressed in the agreement which is expected to be signed, I think it will raise serious concerns,” said Noor Rahman Akhlaqi, member of Jamiat-e-Islami party.

Sources familiar with the talks said the two sides have apparently agreed on some issues including a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, assurance that threats will not be staged from the Afghan soil against any other country and also the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.

“It seems that an agreement will be signed about the issue that the Americans will abandon night raids and bombardments once the two sides seal a deal and in exchange the Taliban refrain from launching attacks on major cities,” political analyst Wahid Muzhda said.

“Recent statements by the US president have somehow damaged the talks and these issues harm mutual trust between the two sides,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Sources said the two sides will sign the peace deal within the next few days which will be followed by intra-Afghan negotiations.

As part of a peace deal, the number of US forces will reduce to 5,000 from the current 14,000, sources said. The troops will be withdrawn from five American bases, which according to President Ghani, they are “small bases” and the reduction will not impact the situation of Afghanistan.

This comes as US Senator Lindsey Graham has once again warned that American pulling troops out of Afghanistan would lead to “another 9/11”, saying that America cannot “outsource” its national security to the Taliban.

Mr. Graham issued a similar warning ahead of US President Donald Trump meeting with his security advisors last month where they discussed issues around a possible peace deal with the Taliban – the militant group which is seeking the withdrawal of all US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for ceasefire and intra-Afghan negotiations.

“If we left tomorrow, the Taliban cannot be trusted to take care of ISIS [Daesh] and al-Qaeda,” Graham said in an interview with Fox News on Saturday.

US, Taliban Make Progress In Doha Talks; Afghan Peace ‘Highest Priority’ For US

Tolo News

August 24, 2019

Sources said that the two sides have agreed on a withdrawal plan which will be implemented in 15 to 20 months.

The ninth round of the negotiations between the US and the Taliban on Saturday completed its third day with progress on a full withdrawal of foreign troops within 15 to 20 months as well as counterterrorism assurances from the Taliban side, sources familiar with the talks said.

The sources said the two sides will sign the peace deal within the next few days which will be followed by intra-Afghan negotiations.

As part of a peace deal, the number of US forces will reduce to 5,000 from the current 14,000, sources said. The troops will be withdrawn from five American bases, which according to President Ghani, they are “small bases” and the reduction will not impact the situation of Afghanistan.

This comes as a former member of the Taliban says the agreement between the US and the Taliban will be finalized within the next few days as the ninth round of the negotiations began in Doha on Thursday.

Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served as Taliban’s ambassador for Pakistan when the group ruled the country in the late 1990s, told TOLOnews on Friday that the deputy leader of the group, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will sign the peace agreement with the United States.

Mr. Zaeef said the US negotiators want to mention in the agreement that the Taliban will not have any relations with terrorist groups after the peace agreement.

The two sides in Doha are expected to discuss ways to implement the peace agreement. A Taliban spokesman said that the US forces top commander Gen. Scott Miller was also present on the first day of the talks in Doha.

Mr. Zaeef said the US and the Taliban have agreed on a full withdrawal of foreign forces in 15 to 24 months and on counterterrorism assurances.

Negotiating Team

The State Ministry for Peace Affairs said discussions are underway on prioritizing the issues which will be discussed by the government’s negotiating team in the intra-Afghan negotiations.

“We will use all resources and opportunities and we will try to help the team appear with good coordination in the talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” said Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for the State Ministry for Peace Affairs.

Last month, the State Minister for Peace Affairs Abdul Salam Rahimi said the 15-member negotiating team has been finalized and that it will be announced ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations which will probably take place in a European capital.

Sources familiar with the process said that the members of the negotiating team have been informed to prepare for the intra-Afghan negotiations and members of the team have held a number of unofficial meetings.

Meanwhile, vice presidential candidate and former NDS chief, Amrullah Saleh, who has joined President Ghani’s re-election campaign, said the US-Taliban peace deal will only determine the fate of the Taliban, not the fate of Afghans.

“We are not scared of the Taliban… Our concern is from the four individuals are negotiating with the US out of the country, out of the Afghan culture, out of the Afghan identity and with the continued technical consolation of Pakistan’s intelligence,” Mr. Saleh said, referring to the Taliban’s negotiating team who have held nine rounds of talks with the US negotiators.

Afghan Peace ‘Highest Priority’ For US: Envoy

Tolo News

24 August 2019

Mr. Bass says peace is the highest priority for the US because it the highest priority of Afghans.

The US Ambassador in Kabul, John Bass, who visited the northern province of Balkh on Saturday, said that both election and peace are important but peace in Afghanistan is the “highest priority” for the United States because it is the highest priority for the Afghan people as well.

The ninth round of peace talks between the US and the Taliban began on Thursday, August 22, with the hope that the two sides will reach a final agreement on four key issues under debate, mainly the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country and intra-Afghan negotiations.

The Afghan presidential election is scheduled for September 28, but some presidential candidates and politicians have recently expressed their skepticism on whether the polls will be held on its scheduled time.

Mr. Bass said the Afghan election should be held on its scheduled time if there is a hurdle in the way of the peace process.

“Both are important for the United States. Peace is our highest priority because it is also the highest priority of the Afghan people. And every day, we have Afghans telling us that peace is their highest priority,” Mr. Bass said. “So, we are working very hard to create that opportunity for Afghans to sit together, to negotiate, to work out their differences and to try to achieve a durable peace agreement which is accepted by most of the people of this country and is therefore implemented.”

In response to a question about US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr. Bass said that the United States and its allies will have confidence that there will be no threat against other countries from Afghanistan.

“My government and other governments have a confidence that we will not face terrorist attacks from inside Afghanistan in the future and if the Talibs want to see intentional forces depart, then they are going to have to demonstrate how it is that they will help ensure that there are no future terrorist threats against the United States or our allies and partners from Afghanistan,” he said.

Meanwhile, Balkh governor Mohammad Ishaq Rahguzar said that the peace talks, the election, and security were the main agenda of his meeting with the US ambassador.

“We discussed how to increase our operations against militants and undertake plans to prevent the militants from disrupting the elections or the security of the province,” he said.

The US envoy’s trip to Balkh comes as the residents of the province recently expressed their concerns over the security of the province and said it will not allow them to show a wide presence in the upcoming presidential election.

This comes as a former member of the Taliban says the agreement between the US and the Taliban will be finalized within the next few days as the ninth round of the negotiations began in Doha on Thursday.

Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served as Taliban’s ambassador for Pakistan when the group ruled the country in the late 1990s, told TOLOnews on Friday that the deputy leader of the group, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will sign the peace agreement with the US.

Mr. Zaeef said the US negotiators want to mention in the agreement that the Taliban will not have any relations with terrorist groups after the peace agreement.

The two sides in Doha are expected to discuss ways to implement the peace agreement. A Taliban spokesman said that the US forces top commander Gen. Scott Miller was also present on the first day of the talks in Doha.

Mr. Zaeef said the US and the Taliban have agreed on a full withdrawal of foreign forces in 15 to 24 months and on counterterrorism assurances.

Political Parties Call For A Ceasefire To Ensure Durable Peace; US, Taliban Make Progress In Doha Talks;