US and Taliban representatives meet in Qatar today for the seventh round of peace talks.
The gathering follows the previous round of discussions, where, according to US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, the path was paved for establishing intra-Afghani dialogue. On the other hand, the Taliban was not represented at last week’s Lahore Process peace talks, which were focused on furthering this dialogue.
The focus of this round of talks will be on drafting text scheduling the withdrawal of foreign troops in exchange for the Taliban’s commitment not to launch attacks in Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has suggested that a peace agreement could be reached by September 1.
Given that the Taliban is still refusing to directly engage with the Afghan government, reaching a peace accord within two months is ambitious. However, as this round of talks will likely result in a timeline for troop withdrawals, expect the Taliban to start engaging with Kabul in the hopes of moving towards a power-sharing agreement.
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Saira is an analyst in the Current Developments team, where she focuses her research on the Middle East and North Africa region.