- Taliban continue to see violence as a leverage point in the negotiations
- The peace talks present a major milestone in the country’s four decades of conflict
Afghan peace talks present a historic opportunity that could “bring a close to four decades of conflict in the country and end America’s longest war,” said the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad while speaking at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).
While noting the challenges ahead, Khalilzad said that the negotiations are not going to be easy and there will be many spoilers. Addressing the Afghan leadership, he said the beginning of the intra-Afghan peace talks “puts agency with the Afghans, which is the only way for [the peace process] to succeed.”
The intra-Afghan peace process started two weeks ago. However, both the Afghan government and the Taliban have not been able to decide on how to proceed with the negotiation process. America's top diplomat lamented that the Afghan government and the Taliban remain the key contributors to violence in Afghanistan.
The United States signed a peace deal with the Taliban in March 2020. According to the deal, the US and its international allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months.
He further said that the Taliban had followed their commitments made in the US-Taliban deal that also include not targeting any US soldiers in Afghanistan and barring Al-Qaida and ISIS from finding sanctuaries in the country. “With regard to terrorism and al-Qaida, what I can say is the Taliban have taken some steps, based on the commitment they have made, positive steps, but they have some distance still to go,” he said.
The Taliban insurgency remains resilient in Afghanistan after two decades of war.