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US, Taliban peace talks end with no deal in Qatar

March 12, 2019 at 8:02 pm

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad speaks before Republican US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks about foreign policy at the Mayflower Hotel on 27 April 2016 in Washington, DC. [BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images]

The fifth round of peace talks between the US and Afghan Taliban ended on Tuesday without reaching a final deal, officials said, Anadolu Agency reports.

The talks in Qatar’s capital Doha lasted for 16 days.

“Just finished a marathon round of talks with the Taliban in #Doha. The conditions for #peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” US top envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted after the meeting ended.

“Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire. In January talks, we “agreed in principle” on these four elements. We’re now “agreed in draft” on the first two,” he added.

READ: Poverty-stricken Afghanistan donates $1m aid for Palestinians 

He said once an agreement on the withdrawal of troops and counter-terror measures is finalized, negotiations on the other two issues will begin.

“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed,” Khalilzad concluded.

In a separate statement, Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that extensive talks were held on two previously agreed-upon issues.

“Those two issues were the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and preventing anyone from harming others from Afghan soil; how and when will all foreign forces exit Afghanistan and through what method?” he said in a statement.

READ: Saudi and the UAE try to block US-Taliban peace talks in Qatar 

The talks are aimed at ending the 17-year war with Afghanistan.

The US wants to include the Afghan government in the talks but the Taliban refuse to recognize Kabul.

“No agreement was reached regarding a ceasefire and talks with the Kabul administration, nor were other issues made as part of the current agenda. Reports by some media outlets in this regard are baseless,” Mujahid concluded.

Afghanistan has maintained that any peace process in the country should be owned and led by its people.