TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -In an interview with AFP in the Qatari capital, Doha, on Saturday, the Taliban’s political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said previous negotiations with Washington had seen the two sides agree to a total withdrawal.
“In our last round of talks with the US side, we agreed with them on withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan,” Shaheen said.
In return for a withdrawal, the militant spokesman said, the Taliban have committed to preventing terror groups using Afghanistan as a launchpad for attacks on other countries.
Shaheen said that agreement needed to be fleshed out at the upcoming talks in Doha in the coming weeks.
“Still, there are some details to be discussed, and this discussion will take place in our next round of talks and that is about (the) timetable of the withdrawal of forces from the country and other details,” he said.
The US government denies that any timeline for a withdrawal has been agreed with the Taliban yet.
The last talks in Doha, where the Taliban has a political office, concluded in March with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad saying “real strides” had been made in efforts meant to put an end to the almost 18-year war in Afghanistan. Khalilzad, who is leading the talks for Washington, said that no agreement had been reached on when the US and other countries might leave Afghanistan.
A meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians that was due to take place over the weekend was canceled amid bickering about Kabul’s lengthy list of delegates, which initially comprised 250 people. The conference would have been separate from the main US-Taliban peace talks.
The talks in Doha have so far excluded the Afghan government. The militant group has rejected a government bid to attend the talks as well as an offer to open an office in Kabul, urging instead international recognition of its office in the Qatari capital.
The Taliban militant group has recently announced the beginning of its spring offensive in Afghanistan despite involvement in the peace talks with the US.
The Taliban’s five-year rule over at least three quarters of Afghanistan came to an end following the US-led invasion in 2001, but 18 years on, Washington is seeking truce with the militants, who still control large swathes of land in the country.
US forces have remained bogged down in Afghanistan through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.