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    US May Not Accept Taliban Demand That All Foreign Forces Leave – Analyst

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    A meeting between a US State Department delegation and Taliban representatives in Doha has resulted in very positive signals according to a Taliban official, cited by the Wall Street Journal. While the meeting hasn't been officially confirmed, the Taliban official said the sides had agreed to meet again to resolve the Afghan conflict via dialogue.

    Sputnik has discussed the reported meeting between US officials and Taliban with Rahimullah Yusufzai, political and security analyst and an expert on Taliban.

    Sputnik: Now according to reports this is the third meeting between US officials and the Taliban, how productive are these meetings in your opinion?

    Rahimullah Yusufzai: As far as I know, initially non-official Americans have been meeting with the Taliban in Qatar and now the American officials have also started meeting them. These are secret meetings. They are exploration kind of talks. They want to explore the possibilities of further more substantive talks. I think this is a good beginning. The Taliban demand has been accepted, they always wanted to talk with the US because they believe that the US is the real power in Afghanistan and they have refused to talk to the Afghan government because they say it is helpless since their main demand is the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban believe that only the Americans can decide this and I think this is at the top of the agenda. The second discussion point was the US concern regarding the Taliban, their policies and their links with other international militant groups like Al-Qaeda. So I think those issues have been discussed and I believe that now the US will have to make up its mind whether they can hold further talks.

    READ MORE: US Delegation Meets Taliban Officials in Qatar for Afghan Peace Talks — Reports

    Sputnik: How high are the chances that the sides may be able to achieve lasting peace with the help of the United States?

    Rahimullah Yusufzai: I think it won’t be easy because the US and its allies may not be willing at this stage to accept the Taliban's demand that all foreign forces should leave. Maybe they will want to discuss a timetable for withdrawal, but before that the US would want the Taliban to talk directly to the Afghan government and to denounce violence, also to agree to a ceasefire, join the political mainstream by setting up a party. Those would be the kind of discussions that would take place. I think it’s a very complicated and a very old issue, it will take time and then the US also has to get the Afghan government involved. The Afghan government will be embarrassed in front of its own people if they are kept out of these talks.

    Sputnik: Does the Afghan public support the peace agreement with the Taliban after all these horrific attacks and suicide bombings?

    Rahimullah Yusufzai: The Afghan people actually are becoming weary of the war. They've suffered so much. There has been so much fighting. They really want peace, but I think many Afghans would not like the Afghan government to accept all the Taliban's demands, so there will be a give-and-take. You know President Ashraf Ghani and the chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, during the 2014 campaign for the election for president — their main promise was that they would start a peace process, that they will bring peace. And since they haven’t been really able to achieve that they’re also desperate and they want to have some kind of peace talks, and I think that’s why they want to take the Afghan people along. They want to take the lead, they insisted these talks would be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned. But I think there is ground for optimism. There could be peace talks and they may lead to some kind of a cease-fire for a time, and then maybe there will be a give-and-take.

    READ MORE: Taliban Reportedly Angry Militants Are Making Selfies With Gov't Forces (PHOTOS)

    Sputnik: How do you see this agreement with the Taliban? Will it be similar to what we’re now witnessing in Colombia, where FARC rebels were given seats in the parliament?

    Rahimullah Yusufzai: I think that would be the objective. So the Americans, the Afghan government they would like the Taliban to take part in the election. They can't take part in the elections for parliament that will take place in October this year, it’s too soon I think. Maybe when there will be elections for president next year, maybe that would be the objective that the Taliban can put up their own candidate. But all these things will only be decided once there’s a breakthrough in the peace talks, that I think requires a lot of effort because there is so much ill-will, so much fighting has taken place, and you know the Afghan government also is not focused or united in the kind of peace they want with the Taliban. The Taliban also have their own different groups with different ideas. So I think there will be hurdles, there will be spoilers, for example, the Islamic State, Daesh. They will oppose any kind of peace talks because they’re not involved and they will try to spoil the whole thing.

    Sputnik: Do you think that the sides will be prepared to observe more ceasefires in the coming  months?

    Rahimullah Yusufzai: I think that is one of the proposals being pushed by the Afghan government, and the Americans would do it on behalf of the Afghan government when they met with the Taliban, and when they meet again, because that will be important to have a ceasefire so that the bloodshed can end and then there are some confidence-building measures like the release of prisoners. So those are essential if there’s going to be serious peace talks. So I think now when they meet again, coming on the 22nd of August, that will be one of the suggestions, one of the proposals by the Americans to the Taliban, and if the Taliban can agree to that, that will be a very good beginning.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect Sputnik's position.

     

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