KABUL: The US (US) and Taliban negotiators are near a deal that might open the way in which for peace in Afghanistan, a high US official stated on Sunday, because the insurgents adopted their weekend assault on the strategic centre of Kunduz by attacking a second northern metropolis.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born US diplomat overseeing negotiations for Washington, stated he would journey to the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday for consultations after wrapping up the ninth spherical of talks with Taliban officers in Qatar.
“We’re on the threshold of an settlement that can cut back violence and open the door for Afghans to sit down collectively to barter an honourable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that doesn’t threaten america, its allies, or every other nation,” he stated in a Twitter put up.
The remark got here as Taliban fighters attacked Pul-e Khumri, within the northern province of Baghlan, only a day after a significant present of power by tons of of fighters who overran components of Kunduz, a strategic metropolis the insurgents have twice come near taking in recent times.
Whereas Kunduz was calm after clearance operations that had pushed out insurgents, inside ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi stated, fighters had taken up positions in two areas of Pul-e Khumri and had been battling Afghan safety forces.
Native officers and residents stated the town was locked down with Taliban fighters occupying positions round one of many major entry factors into the centre and reducing the principle freeway connecting Kabul with the north.
“Proper now, clashes are underway between the Taliban and safety forces within the metropolis, near the governor’s compound and police headquarters,” stated Abdul Jamil, a Pul-e Khumri resident reached by phone.
“Town is closed and little or no motion could be seen. Individuals are terrified,” he stated. There was additionally preventing within the central province of Ghazni and Laghman province, east of Kabul, Taliban and authorities officers stated.
With talks in Doha near wrapping up, the most recent preventing underlined the Taliban’s obvious willpower to enter any deal from a place of power on the battlefield.
Khalilzad gave no particulars of the deal, which is anticipated to see hundreds of US troops withdrawn from Afghanistan in change for ensures by the Taliban to not permit the nation for use as a base for militant assaults overseas.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political workplace in Doha, stated each side had been in discussions to finalise technical points.
“We’re on the verge of ending the invasion and reaching a peaceable resolution for Afghanistan,” Shaheen stated on Twitter.
The settlement wouldn’t by itself finish the preventing between the Taliban and Afghan safety forces, however would permit the beginning of so-called “intra-Afghan” peace talks, that are anticipated to be held within the Norwegian capital of Oslo.
Nevertheless, it was not clear whether or not the Taliban would agree to speak straight with the Western-backed authorities of President Ashraf Ghani, which they contemplate an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.
Some Taliban officers have stated they might solely agree to speak to Afghan officers in a personal capability, not as representatives of the state, they usually stay against presidential elections scheduled for September 28.
It was additionally unclear whether or not the settlement would cowl the total withdrawal of all 14,500 US troops from Afghanistan or how lengthy a pullout would take.
Greater than 20,000 overseas troops are within the nation, most serving as a part of a NATO-led mission to coach and help Afghan forces.
1000’s of US troops are additionally engaged in a separate counter-terrorism mission preventing militant teams akin to Islamic State and al Qaeda.
Suicide bombings and fight operations have continued all through the talks and the preventing within the north underlined the vulnerability of enormous components of Afghanistan, the place the Taliban management extra territory than at any time since being overthrown by a US-led marketing campaign in 2001.