Afghan Taliban, US to hold fourth round of peace talks in Qatar

Iranian officials said there will be no talks with the US as long as sanctions are in place

Iranian officials said there will be no talks with the US as long as sanctions are in place

A Taliban source told Reuters that usa officials had insisted that the Taliban should meet Afghan officials in Qatar and said "both sides were in disagreement over declaring a ceasefire in 2019".

A Taliban representative in Afghanistan had told Reuters early on January 8 that the talks would begin in Qatar's capital, Doha, on January 9.

The Taliban had rejected requests from regional powers to allow Afghan officials to take part in the discussion.

The US, which sent troops to Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington and at the peak of the deployment had more than 100,000 troops in the country, withdrew most of its forces in 2014.

Abdullah said the Taliban have not changed since their austere regime was toppled by US-led forces in 2001.

"The U.S. goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement", the statement said.

Acknowledging the instability and the threat of a resurgent Taliban, highly placed sources said that the Taliban dominated Afghanistan is a security threat not only to Iran and India but is an existential threat to Pakistan. "We have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn't have enough power to make important decisions", a second Taliban official said.

He expressed hope that Afghan Taliban would soon sit with the Afghan government and hold talks.

The announcements of his visit to the region came amid reports that Trump plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, which depends on the United States and other foreign powers for military support and training. Tehran is comfortable with the concept of a government in Kabul in which the Taliban are participants, but not a government in which the militants are the "dominant participants", the people added.

Meanwhile, the United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has also started another multi-nation trip on Afghan peace in which he will visit India, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Pakistani and Iranian officials said they were trying to persuade the Taliban to meet Afghan officials.

Another Taliban source told Reuters the disagreement focused on Washington's insistence that Afghan government officials must be involved in the talks.

The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months. "But if that leadership of the Afghan state is not recognized and is not given value, then we may face a serious challenge", he added. Zarif said it was up to Afghans to decide what role the Taliban should have but Afghanistan's neighbours would not want them to be in overall control.

The war in Afghanistan is America's longest overseas military intervention.

The Taliban and the United States have cancelled the latest round of peace talks after it was unexpectedly moved to Qatar, citing disagreements over the agenda. It has cost Washington almost $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people.

The United States, which sent troops to Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington and at the peak of the deployment had more than 100,000 troops in the country, withdrew most of its forces in 2014. "I don't think it has great impact because we have now fully developed the Afghan National Security Forces that is between 350, 000 to 400, 000 [troops]", he said.

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