Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, February 15th, 2019

US Envoy Meets Taliban Officials in Doha

US Envoy Meets  Taliban Officials in Doha

DOHA - The US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells met with Taliban officials this week to discuss ways to lay the groundwork for peace talks, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The report said the aim of the discussion was to build on momentum created by the recent three-day ceasefire over Eid al-Fitr.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Wells led the US delegation, which met with members of the Taliban’s political commission in Doha, Qatar.
The Taliban’s political office declined to comment, according to the Wall Street Journal report, which also stated that Wells did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
“The United States is exploring all avenues to advance a peace process in close consultation with the Afghan government,” a State Department official said.
The State Department declined to comment specifically on the question of talks with the Taliban, but said Wells returned to the US on Tuesday after discussing progress toward an Afghan-led process with Qatari officials.
The United States earlier in the week commended Qatar for its ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan and said Wells had met with the Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah.
According to Qatar’s The Peninsula daily, the two officials discussed recent progress toward an Afghan-owned, and Afghan-led peace process, and pledged to continue both countries’ efforts toward combating terrorism and promoting regional peace and stability.
Wells welcomed the Qatari government’s support for the ceasefire last month in Afghanistan, and highlighted ‎the deep appreciation of the United States for the Qatari government’s constructive partnership and dedication to Afghanistan, read the report.
After Well’s trip to Qatar, the US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, tweeted “appreciation for Qatar's constructive partnership, dedication and ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan”
Addressing a press briefing late Monday Nauert confirmed that Wells attended meetings in Qatar and met with Al Attiyah, along with other high-ranking officials.
Nauert said: “I can tell you that our senior bureau official for SCA, Alice Wells, is returning today from Doha, Qatar, and that's where she's been meeting with the - she met with the deputy prime minister. She also met with other government officials to talk about their contributions to the situation in Afghanistan.
“Qatar has been an important and valuable partner in that. They have helped with training and equipping, they have helped with supplies, things of that nature that are obviously needed by coalition partners to help facilitate what is going on right there.
“So Alice is returning. She's had good meetings. And part of the reason she went there was to commend the government for their ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan,” said Nauert.
Referring to the recent successful ceasefire over Eid al-Fitr, Nauert said: “I know some folks in the media and around the world have pooh-poohed that ceasefire that lasted a few days, but our view on this, if you can get a ceasefire that lasts a few days, perhaps you could get another one that lasts a little bit longer, and that gives the people of Afghanistan hope.”
The US officials made it clear that the Afghan government was fully involved in the effort to jump-start peace talks.
The US and Afghan officials warn that official negotiations, if they ever happen, could be months away, and that those efforts, like previous attempts, could collapse, according to the Wall Street Journal.
But US officials said they had seen a serious, new interest from the Taliban in peace talks. (Tolo news)