Taliban: talks will focus on US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan
The Taliban confirmed on Friday that talks with the US are continuing in Qatar - after they were halted at the end of February - and will focus on "liberating the country completely" from the presence of foreign forces.
The Taliban said in a statement that talks will now centre around the "internal" dimension of the conflict and the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan which was agreed last January.
The commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, who was present in previous discussions, has now returned to Afghanistan, a source told The New Arab.
The source also said the founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, and Mullah Abdul Hanan Omri joined the Taliban delegation on Thursday.
The two sides emerged from three solid days of talks on Thursday February 28 with plans to regroup the following Saturday.
These latest meetings follow marathon talks last month that saw the US and the Taliban walk away with a "draft framework" focused on a potential US troop withdrawal and a pact to prevent Afghanistan from harbouring terrorists.
The US has continued to push for a ceasefire in the war-torn country and the opening of negotiations between the Taliban and the Kabul government.
The Taliban however have repeatedly refused to meet with officials of the Afghan government, whom they dismiss as "puppets".
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has hinted that headway was being made on the issue, tweeting "there is also progress on forming a national team in #Kabul ready to engage in intra-Afghan dialogue and talks with the Taliban".
The special envoy met with the Taliban's top political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha. The involvement of Baradar, who is believed to be widely respected by the Taliban's various factions, could help garner support for any future deal from insurgents on the frontlines.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced his eagerness to end America's involvement in Afghanistan, where 14,000 US troops are still deployed.
Afghanistan has been enmeshed in nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.
The Taliban was overthrown but launched an insurgency against US-led NATO forces and the Afghan government.
Agencies contributed to this report.
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