No Deal Announced as US, Taliban End Latest Talks
The latest talks between the Taliban and the United States ended early Monday without any sign of a peace deal for Afghanistan. Both sides said they would talk to their leaders about the next move.
This was the eighth round of discussions between the sides.
A Taliban spokesman said last week that the talks would finish with a deal to end the nearly 18-year-long Afghan war. The negotiators have been discussing an agreement that would require the U. S. military to withdraw from Afghanistan. Under the agreement, the Taliban would promise not to use the country to launch terrorist attacks.
The latest talks began on August 3 in the Gulf nation of Qatar. U.S. official Zalmay Khalilzad described the negotiations as "productive." He said he was returning to Washington D.C. for meetings with U.S. officials.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called the discussions "long and useful." But neither of the representatives offered details of the talks.
The Taliban has launched near-daily attacks across Afghanistan while negotiations with U.S. officials continue. The attacks mainly target Afghan forces and government officials, but they also kill many civilians.
The U.S. government has pushed for a ceasefire and plans for inter-Afghan talks. But the Taliban has refused to recognize the Afghan government, calling it a U.S. puppet.
On Sunday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected foreign interference in his country. The president is angry that he is not a full negotiating partner in the talks.
Ghani says the elections planned for September 28 will give the next government power to decide the country's future. But Khalilzad wants a peace deal by September 1, weeks before the vote.
The Taliban says the elections are a sham. The group has told Afghan citizens to avoid campaign events and has warned them not to vote. Taliban forces control about 50 percent of the country.
The Taliban is the strongest it has been since the U.S.-led invasion ended its five-year government in 2001. Former U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the invasion after the group aided al-Qaida.
More than 2,400 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan since then. The United States and NATO forces officially ended combat operations in 2014. However, around 20,000 U.S. and allied troops remain in the country.
Khalilzad wrote on Sunday that he hoped this year would be the last Eid al-Adha in which Afghanistan is at war. The Muslim holiday began over the weekend. The Taliban released a message that said it hoped future Eids would be without "occupation" in "peace and unity."
I'm Ashley Thompson.