The Taliban, in a statement, have said that the group’s representatives held talks with the US Special Envoy for Peace in Afghanistan Zalmany Khalilzad in Doha, the capital of Qatar. The statement said that the meeting focused on ending the war in Afghanistan and pulling US troops from the country.
It is also believed that a temporary ceasefire was also discussed for the upcoming elections in Afghanistan. The Taliban have openly opposed the elections calling them ‘US-led’ and asking Afghans to boycott the process. Moreover, there are concerns that the group might attack polling stations on the polling day.
This was also the first time the Taliban acknowledged such talks with the US. Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, has said that the US presence in the country is the biggest hurdle to peace in the country. However, he also noted that both the sides also agreed to continue the talks, which also indicates a major step forward towards formal peace talks between the group and Washington.
On the other hand, the US Embassy in Kabul did not explicitly confirm the meeting only saying that Khalilzad only held ‘consultations’ in Islamabad, Riyadh and Doha. The Afghan High Peace Council also said that the authority welcomed efforts by the US envoy for peace in the country. “We welcome any move which will help end the conflict and violence in Afghanistan. Based on the recognition from Mr. Khalizad, we consider his efforts as a positive step,” said Assadullah Zaeri, deputy head of the High Peace Council.