- Both sides announced that they should discuss with the leadership their latest decision.
- Khalilzad emphasized that the main purpose of these negotiations was a peace agreement, not the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
- A source in the Taliban's political bureau says they believe holding the presidential election "means opposing peace."
Inter-group talks have been underway since the end of Eid, both between members of the Taliban’s political bureau in Doha and at the level of the Taliban leadership, a source told news reporters in Doha, Qatar on Wednesday. According to the source, who did not want to be named, the Taliban group will make its final decision on a “final deal” with the US within two days. The source added that another meeting between the group’s representatives and the United States would soon be needed if changes were made to the final draft of the agreement with the United States.
After the eighth round of talks between Zalmai Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar on August 8, both sides announced that they should discuss with the leadership their latest decision. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote in a tweet after the meeting that “we agreed to consult with the leadership on future actions from both sides.”
Zalmay Khalilzad, US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan before traveling to Doha for talks with the Taliban in the Eighth Round, said “we will play our part and bring the agreement we worked on for months” but in the eighth round, both sides failed to reach a final agreement.
Mr. Khalilzad also said that the goal of negotiations was a comprehensive peace agreement, which would ensure the fight against “terrorism,” the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, inter-Afghan negotiations that would lead to political stability, and permanent ceasefire. He emphasized that the main purpose of these negotiations was a peace agreement, not the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Disagreement over peace and elections
The Afghan government has already announced the formation of a six-member negotiating committee with the Taliban, but has made the presidential election a priority and is determined to hold off negotiations for more than a month. Speaking after the Eid prayer, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani noted that the government was at the last stage of its legal term and could not decide on peace.
Second Vice President Mohammad Sarwar Danesh said on Eid, on the third day of the meeting that the eighth round of talks between the US and the Taliban already ended, but inter-Afghan talks would begin after the presidential election. But a source in the Taliban’s political bureau says they believe holding the presidential election “means opposing peace.”
US sources also say that the first round of “inter-Afghan” talks would be held in a European country after the “final agreement” between the US and the Taliban. The source added that the inter-Afghan meeting would decide on the Afghan presidential election.
“The Taliban cannot stand against the will of the overwhelming majority of the people of Afghanistan,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqi said. He said that if the results of the eighth round of US-Taliban talks with the government were to be shared, a new phase would be “direct government-Taliban talks.”