Afghanistan: Taliban confirms talks with US peace envoy in Qatar

The Trump administration engages with the Taliban as it wants to wind down the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Security Council Zalmay Khalilzad holds talks at the Afghan Foreign Ministry in Kabul
Qatar has served as a meeting location for US-Taliban discussions since 2011, though its Khalilzad's first try at negotiations as special envoy [Omar Sobhani/Reuters]

A Taliban delegation has met with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar to discuss ending the Afghan conflict, the armed group said on Saturday, in the first official confirmation of talks between the two sides.

The meeting with Khalilzad and other US officials took place on Friday and talks will continue, the Taliban said in a statement emailed to journalists.

The meeting occured as President Donald Trump’s administration pushed to find a way to end the 17-year-old Afghan war, the Wall Street Journal previously reported.

The Journal, citing a person familiar with the gathering, said Khalilzad met with Taliban officials in Doha, the second time in four months that US officials have held face-to-face talks with Taliban representatives.

Khalilzad’s is currently on his first trip as special representative. The 11-day trip was to take him to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces continues 17 years after US intervention [Rahmat Gul/AP Photo]
Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces continues 17 years after US intervention [Rahmat Gul/AP Photo]

The State Department declined to say whether the meeting with Taliban officials in Doha took place.

Alice Wells, the State Department deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, met Taliban officials in Doha in July for what were described as talks about talks.

A Taliban official who was part of the four-person delegation to that meeting said it produced “very positive signals”.

A US-led coalition forced the Taliban from power in 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on Washington and New York.

The group has seized a number of districts across the country in recent years and regularly attack security forces, often killing dozens.

Taliban officials have set the withdrawal of American forces as a pre-condition for peace talks.

Source: News Agencies