Published: Mon, August 12, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Taliban says talks with United States end without a deal

Taliban says talks with United States end without a deal

US and Taliban negotiators will consult their leaders following an eighth round of peace talks to end the almost 18-year war in Afghanistan, the Taliban says.

Held in Qatar since late past year, the talks have brought hopes for a deal allowing USA troops to leave in exchange for a Taliban promise that Afghanistan will not be used by Islamist militants as a base from which to plot attacks overseas.

The pact is expected to include a Taliban commitment to hold power-sharing talks with the US-backed government but it is not expected to include a Taliban ceasefire with the government, leading to fears the insurgents will fight on when United States forces leave.

Zalmay Khalilzad, US special envoy leading the peace talks with the Taliban, says the latest round of negotiations have been "productive".

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Sunday called for lasting national peace in his war-torn country.

Sunday was the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha, which unfolded without any major violence reported in Afghanistan. "Our future fate will not be decided in foreign countries. the future and fate of this country will be decided here in Afghanistan", he added.

Many Afghans had been hoping for a ceasefire to be announced over Eid. "We don't want anyone to intervene in our affairs", Ghani told an Eid-related gathering at the presidential place in Kabul.

There was no immediate comment on Monday from U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who on Sunday tweeted that "I hope this is the last Eid where #Afghanistan is at war".

Yesterday, US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted: "I hope this is the last Eid where Afghanistan is at war", referring to the Eid al-Adha festival now taking place in the Muslim world.

The negotiations have been held in Qatar since late previous year. We don't want a peace in which Afghans wouldn't have dignity.

The US is keen to end its 18-year involvement in Afghanistan, where it has spent more than $1tn, and President Donald Trump has said he wants troops return home.

"Leaders on all sides of the war in Afghanistan must take this to heart as we strive for peace", he said.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, dismissing it as a United States puppet, and on Tuesday they declared the September 28 election a "sham".

It is widely perceived that a deal with the Taliban may lead to the postponement of the presidential election to allow the process to be held under a transitional setup, inclusive of insurgents.

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