As the peace talks in Qatar continue, two sources familiar with the matter said the United States negotiators have asked the Taliban to agree to a long-term reduction in violence before signing the peace deal that both sides have discussed over the past year.
Earlier reports indicated that the Taliban agreed to a short-term reduction in violence. The sources said the Taliban has shared the new US demand with their leadership and that internal discussions are underway.
“Mr. Khalilzad has asked them (the Taliban) there (in Qatar) that there should be an agreement on a long-term reduction in violence. The Taliban are consulting about this with their leaders. There are hopes that this will have a positive result,” said Mawlana Jalaluddin Shinwari, a former Taliban member who served as attorney general under their regime in Kabul.
The talks between the US and the Taliban are proceeding, but with pauses, according to the two sources.
“It is said that the talks between the Taliban and the US are going very slowly these days and the mutual trust is getting farther apart with each passing day,” said Sami Yusufzai, a journalist.
The new developments come as a group of Afghan politicians announced a “National Reconciliation Plan,” which they say will form a structure to represent Afghans in intra-Afghan dialogue.
Another matter related to the peace process is President Ghani’s formation of a negotiating team without consulting other political parties and movements, critics say.
Earlier this week, a group of political parties in a meeting said they are seeking a national consensus on peace. They called on the government to join this national consensus in order to move forward peace negotiations with the Taliban.
“We prefer that the (negotiating) team should be inclusive and the government, as well as those in the Arg (the Presidential Palace), should also be included in it. And if the government is not interested in joining the national consensus, the negotiations can move forward anyway. It means that the national consensus will conduct peace negotiations with the Taliban,” said Mohammad Mohaqiq, head of the Wahdat-e-Islami party.
However, according to the State Ministry for Peace Affairs, which under Ghani’s leadership formed the negotiation team, said their approach is inclusive and that all political parties have been consulted on its formation.
“The negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was selected five months ago after widespread consultations with all influential politicians, civil society organizations and lawmakers,” a spokesperson of the ministry, Najia Anwari, said.