The seventh round of the peace talks between the US negotiators and the Taliban members in Doha, Qatar, will take place next week, sources said, predicting that this time, the two sides will agree on one or two of the four key issues under debate.
The US forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, counterterrorism assurances, a ceasefire and direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are the main key issues which have been under debate in the six rounds of the negotiators between US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban members.
Analysts familiar with Doha talks and the peace process said the Taliban will be given “a number of privileges” in this round of the talks.
“The Americans have decided to give the Taliban some privileges to take the negotiations out of the current situation,” said Wahid Muzhda, a Kabul-based political analyst.
The peace talks have been faced with many deadlocks over the past seven months since Khalilzad started his efforts on behalf of the US government. However, last time in May, Khalilzad said the talks are making “slow” but “steady” progress.
Khalilzad arrived in Kabul last week and since then he has held consultations and talks with Afghan government leaders and members of the civil society, the youth and women.
Sources said that another meeting on Afghan peace will be held in Norway after the US-Taliban talks in Doha.
Reports indicate that the former spy chief and a vice presidential candidate Amrullah Saleh and head of President Ghani’s office, Salam Rahimi, have been invited to the Norway meeting.
But, according to political analyst Nazar Mohammad Motamaeen, the Taliban has decided not to attend the meeting due to the possible presence of the two key officials.
Despite that, Khalilzad said in a tweet on Friday that Norway has a long-standing history in helping Afghanistan and great expertise in facilitating negotiations. The US envoy said that intra-Afghan peace negotiations could benefit from Norway’s support.
The Taliban’s willingness and refusals on attending meetings on peace has created doubts among critics and some lawmakers, who say the group does not seem “interested in peace”.
“So far, the Taliban has not accepted democracy and they have not shown any green signal to an end in the war or to a ceasefire,” an Afghan lawmaker Abdul Rauf Inami said.
This comes as President Ghani said at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Kyrgyzstan this week that breakthroughs in the peace process will take time.