Taliban official says group spoke with U.S

30 July, 2018, 22:47 | Author: Lucy Floyd
  • Alice Wells the US's top diplomat for South Asia

The Taliban official, on condition of anonymity, said that the meeting was held with Washington's top diplomat for South Asia, Alice Wells, earlier in the week in Qatar.

Late last week, a delegation from the US State Department was in Qatar to meet with Taliban officials.

It is U.S. officials who are being more evasive about the process, with the State Department having affirmed that the USA is "exploring all avenues to advance a peace process", but the delegation itself so far refusing to either confirm or deny that any talks had taken place.

NYT described the meetings as "a reversal of a longstanding USA policy" of not holding direct talks with the Taliban.

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Taliban officials met secretly with a senior United States diplomat in Qatar last week, sources in the group have told the BBC.

It was not clear when the next meeting would be held or with whom, but the Taliban official who spoke out was certain one would be held. "Any negotiations over the political future of Afghanistan will be between the Taliban and Afghan government", said the State Department official.

A US-led invasion drove the hardline Taliban from power in 2001, as part of a crackdown against Islamist militants in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Until now, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national security team said it is ready to hold talks with the Taleban at any time and that their allies, including the USA, should participate only as observers.

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The meeting in Doha came as the Afghan government is considering another unilateral ceasefire with the insurgents during the upcoming Eid festival in August to encourage the Taliban to come to the table for peace talks. The US media say the White House has ordered American diplomats to seek direct negotiations with the Taliban. They also destroyed 15 militants' command and control posts and 352 bunkers in different places over the period, according to official figures.

But U.S. officials have taken pains to insist that such talks would not mean the abandonment of what has been a long-standing policy that any peace process would be "Afghan owned and Afghan led".

His release was eventually secured in May 2014 in exchange for the five Taleban prisoners, who are living in Doha.

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