Published: Tue, July 09, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

US envoy hails Taliban talks as 'most productive'

US envoy hails Taliban talks as 'most productive'

The attack came at the onset of a two-day meeting between Afghan citizens and the militants, meant to open the way to a peace process that should build on a hoped-for deal between the United States and the Taliban to end the longest ever US war.

Sunday's bombing came just days after a group of Taliban fighters, including suicide bombers, stormed the engineering and logistics center of the Afghan Defense Ministry in the national capital, Kabul.

But on Saturday, he said the discussions have broadened to include a timeline for both intra-Afghan negotiations as well as a cease-fire.

He said that the Taliban showed that their words and actions are not the same.

Zalmay Khalilzad said talks with the Taliban had been exclusively about troop withdrawal and anti-terrorism guarantees.

For the first time since Washington began negotiating with the Taliban past year, two Afghan government officials came face-to-face with Taliban representatives at the intra-Afghan gathering.

Washington has said it wants to seal a political deal with the Taliban ahead of Afghan presidential polls due in September to allow foreign forces to begin to withdraw.

The US official in Qatar denied reports that Washington was ready to pull out all troops from Afghanistan.

Afghan High Peace Council member Jamaluddin Badar said government representatives may be in Doha in their personal capacity but they "seemed to be giving the government's point of view". "Dialogue has to turn into a meaningful negotiating process", Potzel said. "When Afghans stand united the region will recognise that its interests are best served by a stable and peaceful neighbour", he said.

USA and Taliban officials will reconvene on Tuesday to continue peace talks described as the "most productive session" by a top US negotiator leading the discussions with the hardline Islamists group to end the Afghan war.

In his tweet, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed satisfaction over the intra-Afghan peace dialogue. It is worth mentioning that Afghanistan is at an important crossroads to seize the opportunity to achieve peace, so the direct consensus between the Afghan parties is one of the most important elements for any process leading to this goal. They sat in a vast semi-circle facing a large video screen and the hosts from Qatar and Germany.

A Taliban vehicle bomb in eastern Afghanistan killed at least 12 people and wounded scores more on Sunday, officials said.

Clarity on a final agreement on the timetable of foreign force withdrawal has been elusive so far, but in a sign of progress the Taliban agreed on the sidelines of the peace talks to hold separate discussions with a group of Afghan delegates. "Dozens of NDS officers were killed or wounded", Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

"The meeting is a good start, we have to keep the dialogue going", she said, adding that the Taliban's "mindset" has changed and are "more willing to discuss women rights". Afghan officials say a vehicle bomb in central Afghanistan has killed a few people and wounded dozens of people, many of them students attending a nearby school. Doors and windows of the school were destroyed in the powerful explosion, the children suffered multiple injuries caused by flying shards of glass and broken pieces of wood.

The provincial governor's office said among the dead was a child, and 20 worshipers were also injured.

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