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Taliban: Talks with US Set Stage for Ending Afghan War

Taliban: Talks with US Set Stage for Ending Afghan War

DOHA – Top Taliban leader says their recent negotiations with the United States have achieved “great progress” and he is “very hopeful” the stage is set for ending the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan.
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the deputy chief of the fundamentalist insurgent group and head of its “political office” in Qatar, made the remarks in a rare audio message the Taliban shared with journalists Thursday.
Baradar’s statement comes two days after American and Taliban officials wrapped up a marathon 16 days of talks in Doha, the capital of the Gulf country with both sides reported reaching a preliminary draft agreement toward resolving the conflict.
The negotiations, Baradar noted, have laid “good ground” for future discussions and “paved the way” for finding a solution to the war. He insisted Taliban negotiators achieved the progress without budging on their principles and traditional stance rooted in Islamic Sharia law.
“The outcome I am expecting is that an Islamic system will reign supreme in the country, we gain our independence, foreign troops leave and our countrymen live like brothers,” Baradar asserted.
Known as co-founder of the Afghan Taliban, Baradar had been in captivity for nearly a decade in neighboring Pakistan until last October when he was released at Washington’s request to join and expedite the negotiations process being hosted by Qatar.
US special reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been leading the US team in the peace dialogue that has been in progress since last fall.
Baradar stopped short of saying the Taliban are fighting to regain power when asked to respond to concerns among Afghans that the return of the fundamentalist group would prompt scholars, jihadi leaders and elders to flee the country or wage an armed resistance.
“Those who develop a good understanding with us and do not deceive or seek enmity with us, we will consider them like our brothers. They should not be worried or concerned because all Afghans should sit together and Taliban leaders will show mercy for everyone in an environment of mutual respect,” the deputy Taliban leader said.
The preliminary agreement reached in Doha on Tuesday focused on the withdrawal of US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan in return for Taliban assurances that Afghan soil would not be allowed to become a haven for international terrorists.
(Sahar News)

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