Taliban talks with US resume in Qatar, report says

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - It comes three months after President abruptly halted diplomatic efforts to end America's longest war

Dec 7, 2019

December 7, 2019

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Washington resumed talks with the Taliban in Qatar on Saturday, a US source told AFP news agency, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted diplomatic efforts that could end America's longest war.

"The US rejoined talks today in Doha. The focus of discussion will be reduction of violence that leads to intra-Afghan negotiations and a ceasefire," said the source who had been briefed on efforts to end almost two decades of war in Afghanistan.

In September, the United States and the Taliban had appeared on the verge of signing a deal that would have seen Washington begin withdrawing thousands of troops in return for security guarantees.

It was also expected to pave the way towards direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul and, ultimately, a possible peace agreement after more than 18 years of war.

But that same month, Trump abruptly called the year-long effort "dead" and withdrew an invitation to the insurgents to join secret talks at his US retreat at Camp David after the killing of an American soldier.

During a surprise visit to a US military base in Afghanistan last week, Mr Trump said the Taliban "wants to make a deal."

The report comes after Washington's special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad visited the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday to launch an "accelerated effort" to get Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict to the negotiation table to plot a roadmap to a post-war Afghanistan.

He met with several Afghan leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani, who repeated his call for a cease-fire.

Hekmat Karzai, chairman of the Kabul-based Center for Conflict and Peace Studies, tweeted photographs of his meeting Wednesday with Khalilzad in Kabul, saying they "spoke about the way forward."

His next stop was Doha, but it had been unclear if the US and Taliban would resume talks.

Updated: December 7, 2019 12:38 PM

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