Afghan Taliban Proposes Direct Talks with US

The Afghan Taliban have made three demands for the establishment of peace in Afghanistan. They have demanded that their office in Qatar be recognized politically, that the U.S. hold direct talks with them, and that their senior members be removed from America’s blacklist. They maintain that these are the initial steps for ending the prevailing unrest.

Sohail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban office established in Qatar, has said that the foreign nations present within the U.S. leadership in Afghanistan are hurting the sovereignty and obstructing the freedom and politics of the government of Afghanistan.

An unofficial office has been established in Doha by the Taliban for meeting with Afghan and foreign delegates. This office was opened in 2013, but following objections by the Afghan government, Qatar stopped the Taliban from using this office in an official capacity. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has also refused to recognize the Taliban office.

The conditions laid down by the Taliban appear to be very easy to implement. Recognizing the Doha office should not be problematic and could be accepted if it guaranteed the establishment of peace. Likewise, the holding of talks between the Taliban and the U.S. is not problematic. The matter of removing senior Taliban members from the U.S. blacklist, however, can be resolved only through discussion. An American response would be available only after the Taliban brings their list to the discussion table.

Nevertheless, it seems difficult for the peace process to proceed, as U.S. forces will not leave Afghanistan until peace has been established there. There exists an agreement between America and Afghanistan under which the U.S is to help Afghanistan should Afghan security be threatened. The U.S. will not evacuate Afghanistan to leave the Afghan government at the mercy of the Taliban.

In any case, the Taliban proposal for talks with the U.S. is a welcome gesture that could lead to the opening of new avenues for improving the situation.

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