‘Troops withdrawal key to progress in Afghan peace talks’

‘Troops withdrawal key to progress in Afghan peace talks’

Kabul, June 24 (IANS) The US and Taliban negotiators are expected to reach some sort of a conclusion on a timetable for troop withdrawal as well as intra-Afghan talks in the next round of the peace talks on June 29, two former members of the Taliban has said.

This would be the seventh round of the US-Taliban talks as per US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, but he did not make the venue clear, TOLO News reported on Sunday.

The past six rounds of the US-Taliban talks have been held in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Earlier this month, the Afghan government announced to release almost 900 Taliban prisoners. So far, figures show that almost 400 of the prisoners have been released.

One of the former Taliban member, Abdul Shakoor Mutmaen, said the release of the prisoners could have a good impact on the talks.

“These are key negotiations because the Taliban (prisoners) have been freed and we are very much hopeful that the talks will end with a positive result,” he said.

“A timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces (from Afghanistan) is the key to progress in the talks,” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, the second former Taliban member.

“Talks with the Afghan government will begin and other issues will be solved if there is an agreement on this (the timetable).”

Announcing the date for the next round of talks, Khalilzad said in a tweet on Saturday that as per his visits to Afghanistan and Qatar, all sides — the Afghan government, Taliban, and members of the public — want “rapid progress” in the talks.

Khalizad’s tweet comes as at least 57 Afghan politicians attended the Afghan peace conference in Pakistan which was titled the “Lahore Process”, TOLO News reported.

In an address to the media on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the meeting was a “complementary” of peace efforts in Doha, Moscow and other countries.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, meanwhile, said he welcomes any effort for promoting peace in Afghanistan.

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