US officials discuss rocky peace agreement with Taliban in Qatar

US officials discuss rocky peace agreement with Taliban in Qatar
US delegates travelled to Qatar to meet with Taliban leaders, amid ongoing efforts to end the conflict.
2 min read
14 April, 2020
The meeting was held in Doha on Tuesday [Getty]
US officials met with the leaders of the Taliban in Doha to discuss details of the peace agreement signed between Afghanistan and the US in February, the Taliban confirmed.

Delegates from Washington and the Taliban, led by Deputy Chief Mullah Baradar, met in Doha with US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, as well as the US commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller.

The meeting on Tuesday was hosted by Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar.

"They talked about the complete implementation of the agreement as well as the delay in the release of prisoners," Shaheen said in a statement.

Potential violations of the agreement were also discussed, he added.

"We are honouring the peace agreement. However, the American side and their internal and external military supporters have been targeting civilian populations and Taliban centres that are not even on the battlefield," the group said.

This comes as the US special envoy who negotiated a deal with the Taliban on Monday confirmed an initial prisoner exchange between the insurgents and the Afghan government was an "important step" toward peace.

According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Taliban on Sunday released 20 Afghan security-force prisoners.

The move came after the government last week released hundreds of insurgent captives.

"The release of prisoners is an important step in the peace process and the reduction of violence," Khalilzad said on Twitter.

Khalilzad and the Taliban signed a deal February 29 that paves the way for US and other foreign forces to quit Afghanistan in return for various commitments from the insurgents.

The deal said the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners while the insurgents would free 1,000 Afghan security force personnel.

Read also: How Pakistan and Qatar played a key role in brokering the Afghan peace deal

The exchange was supposed to have happened by March 10, allowing peace talks to begin between the Taliban and the Afghan government - but the process has been beset with problems.

Kabul has claimed the Taliban want 15 of their "top commanders" to be released, while the insurgents have accused Afghan authorities of needlessly wasting time.

A small Taliban team met with the government to discuss a comprehensive prisoner swap last week, but walked out of talks after officials began releasing prisoners only gradually.

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