Afghan Taliban reiterate commitment to Doha peace deal

Elias Hubbard
July 1, 2020

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad, US envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the US in Doha, Qatar February 29, 2020.

However, there was apparently no mention during the call of allegations that some Taliban fighters received money to kill USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation soldiers in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted that Monday's talks between the official, Mullah Baradar, and Pompeo focused on full implementation of the Doha accord and the withdrawal of foreign troops, as well as the release of prisoners, intra-Afghan talks, and a reduction in fighting.

The head of the Taliban's political office in Doha and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a video conference to discuss the Afghan peace process, the Islamist group said on Tuesday.

The confirmation comes amid a raging controversy in Washington about when President Donald Trump learned of United States intelligence that Russian Federation was paying the Taliban to kill USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation soldiers in Afghanistan.

The White House has said Trump wasn't briefed on the intelligence assessments because they haven't been fully verified and were not deemed credible actionable intelligence.

The New York Times reported last week that US intelligence officials concluded months ago that Russian military intelligence offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants to kill USA troops.

USA and Taliban negotiators signed a historic deal in late February meant to set the stage for the end of the conflict in Afghanistan, America's longest-running war.

The New York Times, along with other outlets, reports that President Donald Trump was briefed on intelligence that Russian Federation was engaged in such malign activity earlier this year.

Trump has insisted that he was not briefed but lawmakers of the rival Democratic Party and even some Republicans have demanded further explanations.

The call comes as the USA peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, is touring the region in efforts to advance the deal.

Afghanistan's dilapidated healthcare system is grappling with the pandemic, with the number of infections thought to far outnumber the official tally of more than 31,000 cases, including 733 deaths.

"We are committed to starting inter-Afghan talks, as we have said before, but delays in the release of prisoners have delayed inter-Afghan talks", Shaheen tweeted, referring to a pledge by Afghan authorities to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners as a condition to start the negotiations.

"Spoke yesterday with the Taliban chief negotiator to press the Taliban to live up to their commitments under the US -Taliban Agreement, including not to attack Americans", Pompeo wrote on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the U.S. -Taliban deal is at a critical stage at a time violence in Afghanistan has continued since a three-day cease-fire at the end of May. As civilian casualties rise, both the Taliban and the government blame each other.

Baradar told Pompeo the increased attacks were because of provocation by the government in areas under Taliban control, Shaheen added.

While attacks on USA troops are down, the Taliban has continued to launch deadly attacks against Afghan security forces.

The Afghan government said a powerful bomb and mortar fire by the Taliban caused the deaths.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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