Over a month has passed since the US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad called for the Taliban to agree on a reduction of violence to move the peace process forward, but there has been no development in this area despite the group's two-week consultation with its military council last month.
Sources familiar with the talks said the Taliban has yet to share the results of their consultations with Khalilzad who, according to reports, is back in Qatar and has held an informal meeting with Taliban deputy leader Abdul Ghani Baradar.
But, the sources said, the group is expected to agree on a reduction of violence in the near future.
Two former Taliban members told TOLOnews on Monday that they are optimistic about a soon-to-be-finalized decision of the group on the reduction of violence and the resumption of the peace talks.
“The military council of the Taliban has agreed (on a reduction of violence). They are waiting for the signature of the emir of the Taliban,” said Mawlawi Abdul Shakoor Mutamen, head of the Olympic committee during the Taliban regime.
“The Taliban has agreed to consider a reduction of violence in response to the call for a ceasefire. They will agree on this today (Tuesday) or tomorrow (Wednesday) and then they (the US and the Taliban) will discuss the peace deal,” former Taliban commander Sayed Akbar Agha said.
The Afghan government says its absence from the US-Taliban makes a settlement difficult.
“We hope that the talks (in Qatar) lead to direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban,” acting Foreign Minister Idris Zaman said. “Ceasefire is one of the conditions for a first step and we are still calling for it."
The High Peace Council, meanwhile, demanded an “explanation” by Zalmay Khalilzad for the delay in the next round of the talks, which were halted after the Taliban attacked a health facility near the Bagram Airfield in the north of Kabul in early December.
“How come the Taliban are insisting on not finalizing the talks, and why are the Americans not willing to sign it? This should be explained by Mr. Khalilzad,” a member of the council, Abdulhaq Haqyar, said.