Former United States Ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad

US pauses talks with Taliban

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The American negotiators took a “short break” in negotiations with representatives of the Taliban movement, which recently resumed in the capital of Qatar, Doha.

This decision was made in Washington after militants carried out a suicide attack at an American base outside Kabul, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70, said US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday.  According to him, after talking with the Taliban on Friday, he “expressed indignation over the attack on Bagram.”  “We are taking a short break so that they consult with their leadership on this important topic,” Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.

Earlier this month, Khalilzad resumed talks with the Taliban about steps that could lead to a ceasefire and a resolution to the 18-year war in Afghanistan, Reuters said.  The White House and the Taliban intend to reach a consensus in order to reduce violence or even achieve a ceasefire, which will gradually withdraw US and NATO forces from Afghanistan.

Peace talks began earlier this year.  In September, U.S. President Donald Trump unexpectedly suspended them, citing an assault in Kabul that killed an American soldier.

In November, Trump unexpectedly visited Afghanistan, congratulating the American contingent on Thanksgiving.  In his speech, the head of the White House said that the United States and the Taliban intend to continue the peace talks, and the Taliban allegedly expressed a desire to achieve a ceasefire.

Currently, there are about 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan, as well as thousands of other NATO troops.  The Pentagon expects that US forces can be reduced to 8,600 troops and in such numbers will be able to effectively carry out the main anti-terrorism mission, as well as hold certain consultations for representatives of the Afghan security forces.

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