Officials have also said that only the Afghan government will have the authority to hold peace talks with the Taliban.
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In a statement on Monday night, the Presidential Palace (ARG) said efforts are underway to announce another ceasefire during the Eid festival and that it is only the National Unity Government (NUG) which can claim ownership of any future talks.
“The authority of the negotiations is supposed to be the ownership of the National Unity government, but there is a need for consultations on various aspects of the talks,” the statement quoting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani read.
Ghani said that the unilateral ceasefire which was announced during Eid-ul-Fitr was visibly successful.
On the reports about the retreat of Afghan forces from some regions in the country Ghani said: “Rumors that the security forces are retreating from some regions are baseless and a safe zone policy is not on government’s agenda.”
Meanwhile, former US ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker said this week that peace talks between representatives of the Taliban and US officials in Qatar further undermines the credibility of the Afghan government.
This comes in the wake of reports that US officials met with Taliban officials in Doha, Qatar, to discuss the possibility of peace talks to end the war in Afghanistan.
“It is different, not, I think, in a positive way for the United States – certainly not for the government of Afghanistan. These talks apparently took place without the Afghan government being present. That’s a huge deal because the Taliban has long insisted that they are ready to talk to us but not with the illegitimate – their term – Afghan government in the room. They got what they wanted. It will further delegitimize the Afghan government. So this may lead somewhere. I don’t think it’s going to lead anywhere good for the Afghan government itself,” said Crocker.
But Ghani’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah has said that the Afghan government is fully aware of these developments and that the main objective of the efforts by Washington is to pave the way for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
“These contacts have also been held in the past, similar issues were also reported recently, the Afghan government is fully aware of that, the efforts are aimed at laying the groundwork for direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” said Abdullah.
According to reports, these talks between the US and the Taliban were held in the last week of July in Qatar.
Alice Wells, the US’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and Mullah Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, the head of the Taliban’s political office, represented their sides in the talks.
Some media reports have however indicated that officials from the Pentagon and the Centeral Intelligence Agency (CIA) were also present at the talks.
The Taliban so far has not confirmed that these talks took place in Doha.
But media reports indicate that a number of Taliban officials have met with US officials on several occasions in the past few months.
Last month Wall Street Journal reported that Wells met with Taliban officials to discuss ways to lay the groundwork for peace talks.
The report said the aim of the discussion was to build on momentum created by the recent three-day ceasefire over Eid al-Fitr.
Afghan officials last month rejected reports about the possibility of direct peace talks between the US and the Taliban, and maintained any negotiations would be an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process.
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