US, Taliban Resolve Differences over US Troop Withdrawals
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, In Homeland Security
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The United States also received guarantees from the Taliban that “the insurgents will cut ties with other extremist groups.”
The Taliban controls about half of the war-weary south Asian nation.
While the two sides have been holding talks, technical teams continued separate talks in the Qatari capital, where the Taliban maintains a political office.
US Negotiator Tweeted ‘Excellent Progress’ by Both Sides
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy who has participated in the several rounds of talks since they began late last year, tweeted that the two sides made “excellent progress,” AP said. “Khalilzad has said he is hoping for a final agreement by Sept. 1 that would allow the roughly 20,000 U.S. and NATO forces to leave.”
Future Meeting between US and Taliban to Be Arranged
In addition to the talks in Doha, a Taliban source told the French news agency AFP that there have been attempts to arrange another meeting between Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar, the head of the Taliban’s political wing. “The men have met previously, as recently as May but there was no confirmation of any meeting at this latest round of talks,” AFP added.
US Embassy Staff in Kabul Expected to Be Reduced by Half by End of September
Citing “five sources familiar with the matter,” CNN reported on August 1, that the Trump administration was in the midst of “a dramatic scaling back” of the U.S. embassy in Kabul “with the goal of cutting half of the embassy’s personnel by the end of September.”
CNN linked the diplomatic drawdown to U.S. hopes for a peace deal with the Taliban. “This is part of the Trump administration’s push to end the war in Afghanistan,” an unnamed State Department spokesman explained.
Still the war in Afghanistan, now nearly 18 years old, continues. More than 1,500 civilians were killed or wounded last month, AFP reported. That was the highest monthly toll so far in 2019 and the deadliest single month since May 2017.
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