Real strides in Afghan Taliban talks but no agreement: Zalmay Khalilzad

12:09 AM | 13 Mar, 2019
Real strides in Afghan Taliban talks but no agreement: Zalmay Khalilzad
KABUL - US and Afghan Taliban negotiators concluded their latest round of marathon peace talks which lasted for 16 days but no agreement was signed.

US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Tuesday that real strides were made in the fresh round adding that all sides desire cessation to the long-standing war.

“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,” Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted.

The representative also put forth four contentious issues to be resolved between the opposing sides.

The representative announced that the next step would be discussions in Washington, adding that “there is no final agreement until everything is agreed.”

The talks focused mainly on the withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country and assurances that insurgents would not use Afghan soil for future attacks.

“Progress was achieved regarding both these issues,” said a Taliban spokesperson.

The schedule for next round of negotiations is unclear but all eyes are fixed on Washington as US President Donald Trump has visibly hinted at pulling out of the war-ravaged country.

Amid ongoing talks, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah expressed that Taliban were using peace talks with the United States for propaganda purposes, urging Washington to keep troops in the country until a formal settlement that includes Kabul has been signed with the militants.

"Unless the Afghan government has direct negotiations with the Taliban, Afghan people have the right to be concerned," Abdullah said in an interview on Monday.

"The Taliban wants to use these peace talks for political and propaganda purposes instead of using this as a step towards peace," he added.

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to pull out roughly 14,000 American troops from Afghanistan and has tasked U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to strike a deal with the militants.