09:46 GMT12 July 2020
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    The exact nature of the meeting is a tightly guarded secret.

    Zalmay Khalilzad, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, met with Taliban representatives in Qatar on Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    This is the second time in four months that American officials have engaged in direct talks with Taliban representatives.

    While the content of the negotiations has not been disclosed, US President Donald Trump has called for a strategy to end the 17-year-old Afghan War, which Mother Jones' Tim Murphy not-so-precisely called "a war old enough to enlist itself." (US citizens cannot enlist until the age of 18, except in cases where parental consent enables enlistment at age 17.)

    Khalilzad is on his first trip as the special representative, Reuters reported. His 11-day trip includes stops in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

    The US State Department, however, declined to comment. "We can't confirm specific meetings or the content of diplomatic conversations," an anonymous State Department official told Reuters.

    "Special Representative Khalilzad held a number of meetings with a wide range of stakeholders as part of his trip to explore how best to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan," the source added.

    Earlier in July, Alice Wells, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, also met Taliban representatives in Doha, a conference which was described by the participants as "talks about talks," according to the Wall Street Journal. The Taliban side described the meeting as having produced "very positive signals."

    The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as a reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with the mission lasting until December 28, 2014. In 2015, NATO initiated a new mission, Resolute Support, which was aimed at providing training assistance to Afghan security forces. Nevertheless, seemingly endless US operations have shown limited effectiveness at establishing enduring peace in Afghanistan.

    Taliban officials have demanded the withdrawal of US forces from the country and the establishment of a government in Kabul that reflects the group's view of Islam.


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    negotiations, meeting, Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, United States, Qatar, Afghanistan
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