The commander of US forces in Afghanistan has met Taliban leadership in Doha to discuss the need to reduce violence in the war-torn country, which threatens to derail a fragile peace process, according to spokesmen for both sides.
General Scott Miller, commander of US forces and the NATO-led non-combat Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, held talks with Taliban leaders on Friday night.
“General Miller met with Taliban leadership last night as part of the military channel established in the agreement,” a spokesman for US Forces in Afghanistan told Reuters. “The meeting was about the need to reduce the violence,” he said.
The US and the Taliban signed an agreement on February 29 in the Qatari capital aimed at ending the 18-year war in the South Asian nation.
The agreement set out a framework for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban not allowing any groups to launch attacks against the US or its allies.
The talks came as the Afghan armed group accused US forces of breaching the agreement.
Another sticking point is the delay in the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners by the Kabul government that was agreed as part of the deal.
The spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha said on Twitter that the meeting discussed the implementation of the agreement.
The Taliban last week accused US forces of supporting Afghan security operations in some parts of the country, and warned that such support could jeopardise the agreement.
The spokesman for the US forces described the actions as defence of Afghan forces.
The Taliban are to participate in intra-Afghan talks aiming to establish peace in the country as part of the Doha agreement, but the prisoner exchange that was supposed to precede the talks has hit snags.
The Afghan government released a total of 200 Taliban prisoners on Wednesday and Thursday, but the Taliban group had walked away from the exchange process, saying its demand on who was to be released first was not met.
Earlier, the Taliban had said it was against the phased released of its prisoners. The armed group is also expected to release Afghan captives as part of the deal.