Doha, Aug 23 (IANS) The US and Taliban have resumed peace talks in Doha, Qatar, aimed at chalking out a deal on the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and negotiations with the government in Kabul.
Sources familiar with the ninth round of the talks said the negotiations, that began on Thursday, will focus on three key issues: the mechanism of Taliban prisoners release; a decision on whether to keep US intelligence in Afghanistan after a peace deal; and at what level of leadership the peace deal between the two sides should be signed, TOLO News reported.
"The recent statement by the US President that some part of the US intelligence will remain in Afghanistan has turned into a matter of discussion for the Taliban and it has raised some concerns. In this round, they will again discuss the issue in detail," said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
The Wall Street Journal citing the US officials has said that the Taliban initially demanded an immediate pullout, however, the US negotiators pressed for a withdrawal stretched over 18-24 months while the Taliban softened their demand to nine to 12 months.
Before the talks began on Thursday, US Special Representative on Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad had said that Washington was ready to seal a peace deal with the Taliban if the group was ready for it.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday assured that peace would finally prevail in the war-torn country and that the nation should not have any concern about the ongoing talks between the US and the Taliban in Doha.