As the US and the Taliban negotiators are about to resume their talks after a one-day break on Saturday, reports indicate that the two sides are expected to rewrite the draft agreement to verify that all foreign troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan and the group will ensure that neither Al Qaeda or other terrorist outfits will operate from the country.
The report about the rewriting of the draft agreement was released by the Associated Press and other news agencies, quoting Taliban members and critics familiar with the Doha talks.
The reports indicate that the two sides hope to rewrite agreement during the present talks -- which is the seventh round of the US-Taliban talks.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesperson for the Taliban's political office in Qatar, told The Associated Press earlier that a draft agreement was being rewritten to include agreed-upon clauses. The two sides apparently remain divided on the withdrawal timetable, with the US reportedly seeking more time.
The agreement could be rewritten by Sunday when a group of 50 Afghan delegates will hold talks with a group of Taliban members in Doha as part of an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Months of reported progress have made a deal increasingly likely. The basic outline of a deal has been reached and the rewriting will require just working out specifics such as a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops.
US President Donald Trump has said he wants to leave intelligence officers but it is not clear if this can be made part of the agreement.
Trump’s recent statements could even put an agreement in jeopardy. Trump, while maintaining that he wants the US to “just get out” of the 18-year mire of a campaign in Afghanistan, has now said he would not do that after all – leaving behind a “very strong” intelligence presence.
In an interview to Fox News, Trump said that he still wanted to pull US troops out of Afghanistan, in line with his previous pledge, but cannot do so since the country has turned into a breeding ground for terrorists in the wake of the US intervention in 2001.
Pompeo Optimistic About Peace Efforts
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was nevertheless optimistic about the Afghan peace process when he said last week that Afghans deserve an end to the ongoing violence and that the “hour has come for peace in Afghanistan”.
He said in a tweet on Wednesday that the US remains committed to the Afghan peace process and to helping those who seek a peaceful future.
In his recent visit to Kabul this month, Pompeo hoped there will be a deal by September 1 this year.