US, Taliban agree ‘in principle’ to resume talks

The Afghan Taliban negotiating team had started talks with the US in Qatar last year, but suspended them after few months.

Islamabad: The United States and Taliban have agreed ‘in principle’ to resume talks in Qatar besides taking confidence-building measures (CBMs) to initiate a peace process in Afghanistan, it has emerged.

“Yes, the two sides are going to resume talks in Qatar probably next week or beyond,” the Daily Times quoted senior member of the Afghan Taliban, as saying.

According to the report, the Afghan Taliban negotiating team had started talks with the US in Qatar last year, demanding release of key Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay.

However, after few months of negotiations, the Taliban suspended the preliminary peace negotiations with the US and blamed Washington for being non-serious in the political process.

The Taliban blamed the Americans for “ever-changing positions” and saw the US efforts to involve the Afghan authorities in the process as hurdles in moving forward with the talks.

Denying the fact that Taliban are holding peace talks with the US, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had earlier said that the dialogue in Qatar was focused on CBMs rather than peace.

“When it comes to peace process Washington remains confused - going one step ahead and two steps back,” Mujahid said, adding that the US should clear its mind before restarting peace talks.

Under the new deal, the process of releasing Taliban detainees from Guantánamo would be started with initially releasing five prisoners while a process to free Taliban leaders in Afghanistan has already been kicked off.