• Taliban: No deal reached with US in Qatar on deadline to end Afghan war

The Taliban militant group says it has failed to reach any agreement with the United States after three days of talks in Qatar, citing dissatisfaction with a deadline set by Washington’s Afghanistan envoy to end the war.

The Taliban leaders met US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at their political headquarters in Qatar last week for the second time in the past month, said the militant group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid on Monday.

“These were preliminary talks and no agreement was reached on any issue,” Mujahid added.

The statement came a day after Khalilzad said he was hoping to cut a peace deal with the Taliban by April 20, 2019, the date set for presidential elections in Afghanistan.

The militant group, however, said they had not accepted any deadline set by Washington.

Another senior member of the Taliban said Khalilzad’s strategy to declare a deadline showed how desperate Washington was to withdraw foreign forces from Afghanistan.

“Taliban leaders have not agreed to any deadline because we are winning on all fronts,” he claimed.

The Taliban also warned the US against sending mixed messages that could muddle the peace process. The group was apparently referring to an earlier statement by Khalilzad that said the Taliban believe they will “not win militarily.”

“We were astonished to see Khalilzad’s statement in Kabul on Sunday. He wrongly quoted us, saying that the Taliban admitted that militarily we would not succeed,” said a senior Taliban member in Afghanistan.

The United States appointed Khalilzad, its former ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, in September to lead the reconciliation efforts with the Taliban.

Khalilzad has since been traveling to the region for discussions with the national government and the Taliban, trying to renew the peace talks.

Two senior US officials also confirmed that the second round of talks ended last week, and that the Taliban expected Khalilzad to visit Qatar for a meeting before the end of 2018.

“The second round of talks went on for three days. This clearly proves that both sides are exercising patience and caution during their diplomatic engagement,” a US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

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Nov 19, 2018 15:05 UTC
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