US envoy held talks with Taliban for three days in Qatar: Reports

US envoy held talks with Taliban for three days in Qatar: Reports
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Srinagar: The Taliban have held three days of talks with the United States (US) envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Afghan group has a political office, a Taliban official and another individual close to the group claimed on Sunday.

Associated Press reported that the talks are aimed at renewing the Afghan peace process and eventually winding down America’s longest war.

The two individuals claimed Khairullah Khairkhwah, the former Taliban governor of Herat, and Mohammed Fazl, a former Taliban military chief, attended the marathon talks.

The two individuals spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the sensitive negotiations.

US officials could not immediately be reached for comment. The State Department has refused to comment on reported talks with the Taliban.

A third individual with knowledge of the discussions said the Taliban pressed for a postponement of next year’s presidential elections and the establishment of an interim government under neutral leadership.

Abdul Sattar Sirat, an ethnic Tajik, and Islamic scholar, was suggested as a candidate to lead an interim administration.

The individual, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said Khalilzad wants to reach a settlement within six months, a timescale the Taliban said was too short.

Khalilzad also proposed a ceasefire, which the Taliban rejected, the individual said, adding that there was no agreement on the release of prisoners, opening the Taliban office or lifting a Taliban travel ban.

Khairkhwah and Fazl were among five senior Taliban members released from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2014 in exchange for US Sgt Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban after walking off his base in Afghanistan in 2009. The five are now based in Qatar, and are seen as having enough stature to sell a peace deal to insurgents fighting on the front lines.