US and Taliban negotiators are near an settlement that would cut back preventing and permit full peace talks amongst Afghans, a prime US official mentioned on Sunday, a day after rebel forces stormed the strategic northern metropolis of Kunduz.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born US diplomat overseeing negotiations for Washington, mentioned he would journey to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday for consultations after wrapping up the ninth spherical of talks with Taliban officers in Qatar.
“We’re on the threshold of an settlement that can cut back violence and open the door for Afghans to take a seat collectively to barter an honourable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that doesn’t threaten the US, its allies or every other nation,” he mentioned in a Twitter publish.
The remark got here a day after a serious present of power by a whole lot of Taliban fighters who overran components of Kunduz – a metropolis they’ve twice come near taking in recent times – setting off a day of gun battles and airstrikes to drive them again.
Khalilzad gave no particulars of the deal, which is anticipated to see 1000’s of US troops withdrawn from Afghanistan in trade for ensures by the Taliban to not enable the nation for use as a base for militant assaults overseas.
“We’ll now focus on these developments with our personal management, whereas Zalmay Khalilzad is meant to go to Kabul and inform the Afghan management concerning the selections made within the peace talks,” a senior Taliban chief mentioned.
The settlement wouldn’t finish the preventing between the Taliban and Afghan safety forces, however would enable the beginning of “intra-Afghan” peace talks, anticipated to be held within the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
Nevertheless, it was not clear whether or not the Taliban would agree to speak instantly with the western-backed authorities of president Ashraf Ghani, which they think about an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.
Some Taliban officers have mentioned they might agree to speak to Afghan officers solely in a non-public capability, not as representatives of the state, they usually stay against presidential elections scheduled for 28 September.
It was additionally unclear whether or not the settlement would cowl the withdrawal of all 14,500 US troops or how lengthy a pullout would take.
Greater than 20,000 overseas troops are within the nation, most serving as a part of a Nato-led mission to coach and help Afghan forces. Hundreds of US troops are additionally engaged in a separate counter-terrorism mission preventing militant teams akin to Islamic State and al-Qaida.
Suicide bombings and fight operations have continued all through the talks and the preventing in Kunduz underlined how weak massive components of Afghanistan are, the place the Taliban management extra territory than at any time since being overthrown by a US-led marketing campaign in 2001.
Taliban fighters, who management massive components of the encircling countryside, stormed the town early on Saturday, and seized massive areas, together with a hospital, earlier than Afghan safety forces backed by airstrikes pushed them again.