US, Taliban to start next round of talks on June 29: Zalmay

US pushes Taliban to reduce violence as deal enters'next phase'

WASHINGTON: The United States and the Taliban will open fresh negotiations next week, the US negotiator said Saturday, as he voiced hope for progress in ending America´s longest war.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative on Afghanistan, said the two sides would start their seventh round of talks on June 29.
“Based on my recent visits to Afghanistan and Qatar, I believe all sides want rapid progress,” Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.
The State Department, announcing Khalilzad´s travel before the date of the latest talks were set, said the negotiations with the Taliban would take place as usual in Qatar.
Khalilzad is hoping to negotiate a deal under which the United States would withdraw troops first sent after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
In turn, the Taliban would guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a staging ground by extremists such as Al-Qaeda — the main reason for the US invasion nearly two decades earlier.
The Taliban have refused US appeals to end the violence to improve the atmosphere of talks, instead pressing on with their insurgency.
Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada in a message for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr earlier this month said that the Taliban´s “resistance against the occupation is nearing the stage of success.”
In another key sticking point, the Taliban have not negotiated with the internationally recognized government in Kabul, although a UN official recently confirmed that Germany and Qatar were working to organize an inter-Afghan meeting.
President Donald Trump has voiced impatience with the war, believing there is no further reason to bear the cost in money or lives.


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