Peace Deal Crucial Before Elections: High Peace Council

A blistering overnight attack by the Taliban on an Afghan police outpost in western Farah province killed 30 policemen Afghan officials said on Thursday. — AFP  File

"The Taliban [is] saying they do not believe they can succeed militarily, that they would like to see the problems that remain resolved by peaceful means, by political negotiations".

On November 17, security officials had said that government forces had made some progress in Malistan and Jaghori districts.

"Without going into detail here, we do believe the Taliban know that at some point they do have to reconcile", he said.

In the three months following Pompeo's visit, the Taliban demonstrated their resilience even as the USA military continued its focus on training and advising the Afghan army and police while helping develop an Afghan air force. Taliban officials said Monday, Nov. 12, 2018 that Pakistan has released Abdul Samad Sani, a USA -designated terrorist who served as the Afghan Central Bank governor during the militants' rule, along with a lower-ranking commander named Salahuddin.

On November 9, India sent its two retired diplomats - TCA Raghavan, a former envoy to Pakistan, and Amar Sinha, a former ambassador to Afghanistan at the "non-official level" for meeting with Russian Federation and Taliban representatives.

The US Special Adviser for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad eyes a peace agreement with the Taliban group ahead of presidential elections.

Another senior member said Khalilzad's strategy to declare a deadline showed how desperate the United States was to withdraw foreign forces.

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The insurgents, fighting to expel foreign forces and defeat the Western-backed Afghan government, last month presented demands to Khalilzad that included a timeline for the withdrawal of USA troops and the release of senior Taliban from jails.

Khalilzad returned to Kabul on Sunday after spending three days in Qatar for discussions with the Taliban's political office representatives there.

No date has been announced for another round of talks but Khalilzad said the Taliban "might bring additional changes to their team of negotiators".

Taliban during the talks allegedly pressed for a postponement of next year's presidential elections and the establishment of an interim government under a neutral leadership.

All five former Guantanamo Bay detainees are now based in Qatar and are thought to have enough influence with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan to broker a peace deal.

In meetings in Kabul, Khalilzad is expected to press Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to cobble together his own negotiating team, which could prove hard given the deep divisions within the government.

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