Photo from the AP

DOHA, QATAR– Tuesday marked the end of a two week summit on peace talks between U.S and Taliban delegations to end America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan. When speaking with press after the conclusion of the meeting Tuesday both U.S. and Taliban delegations said “progress” has been made in the peace talks to end the conflict.

Talking Points

During the nearly two weeks of talks at the summit the U.S. and Taliban were able to produce two draft agreements on a “withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures,” American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wrote on a twitter post.

Khalilzad will also be heading to Washington to meet with concerned parties on the matter of the peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban forces. He will also have meetings with Afghan government who was not involved in the two week summit.

“The conditions for #peace have improved,” Khalilzad wrote. “It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.”

The Taliban issued their own statement, similarly saying, “progress was achieved” on both of those issues. It stressed no cease-fire deal had been reached, nor any agreement for it to speak to the Afghan government.

“For now, both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting, the date of which shall be set by both negotiation teams,” the statement read.

It wasn’t immediately clear when the next round of talks would begin.

Sticking Points

In the frame work of the agreements between the U.S. and Taliban there are still a couple points of contention which are the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the guarantee that the Taliban will not host militants who promote terrorism upon the United States.

The Taliban wants a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan within 3-5 months with the U.S. suggestion being more in the range of 18-24 months more reasonable withdrawal time period to move America’s forces and large assets in country.

According to an Taliban Official who spoke to the Assoicated Press on the condition of anonymity as he was unauthorized to reveal details of the negotiation publicly said, “ the main sticking point remained when U.S. forces would withdraw. The Taliban want a withdrawal within three to five months, while the U.S. is saying it will take 18 months to two years.”

The U.S. is also looking for the Taliban to guarantee that they will never host militants that would launch a attack against the U.S. The Taliban has stated that it can agree to a general promise, but remains unwilling to name specific groups that will be covered by the promise.

The Remaining Threat

The Taliban has made a comeback in recent years. Taliban forces conduct daily attacks on Afghan forces throughout the country. While at the U.S. and Taliban peace talks a threat still remains for U.S. forces still present in the country. Taliban successor Ayman al Zawahri is believed to be hiding in Afghanistan. It is also believed that other militants from other Arab countries are residing within Taliban regions. Militants from Yemen and Saudi Arabia are believed to harbored by the Taliban.

The Pakistan Effect

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi helped persuade Taliban Officials to meet for peace talks with the U.S. With Pakistan being a key part of the peace talk has help the tumultuous relationship in Washington. Donald Trump has his Administration has repeatedly accused Pakistan of receiving billions in funds, while failing to crackdown on militants in its border regions.

Qureshi spoke about the progress being made at the talks. Qureshi states, “Pakistan has encouraged all factions within Afghanistan to sit together and have a meaningful intra-Afghan dialogue.”

Conclusion

The road to peace is not a simple one between the U.S. and Taliban. The Afghan War is a complex and intricate beast that cannot be unwrapped and put away in a day. Or have U.S. forces withdrawal in 3-5 months. These peace talks are a great road map to end a conflict that has been going on for the past 17 years.

Thanks for Reading.

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