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Monday, December 6, 2021

Taliban to propose peace plan ‘as soon as next month’


The US is reportedly set to complete its troop withdrawal by the end of August, weeks ahead of the September 11 deadline.

The Taliban is expected to present the Afghan government with a peace plan next month in efforts to accelerate the stalled peace process, a spokesperson from the insurgent group told Reuters on Monday.

“The peace talks and process will be accelerated in the coming days … and they are expected to enter an important stage, naturally it will be about peace plans,” said Zabihullah Mujahid.

The plan will be presented as US and foreign forces continue to withdraw from Afghanistan, which is scheduled to be completed by the 11 September deadline this year.

In recent days, Washington said the process to pull out soldiers may be completed by the end of August, noting some 650 troops will be left behind to protect the American embassy in Afghanistan as well as the Kabul airport.

Mujahid also said the latest round of talks in the deadlocked Afghan peace process, which has been taking place in Qatar since September 2020, are at a critical point.

Last week, Taliban leaders renewed talks with envoys from the Afghan government in Doha, the report added.

“Although we [Taliban] have the upper hand on the battlefield, we are very serious about talks and dialogue,” said Mujahid.

His statement also come amid heightened security concerns triggered by the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. In recent days, the Taliban has seized more territories in Kabul.

So far, the group says it captured more than 200 districts in 34 provinces, while Western security officials say the groups has seized more than 100.

A spokesperson for the US State Department told Reuters that a negotiated settlement was the only way to end decades of war in Afghanistan.

Remaining US troops would constitute ‘violation’ of February agreement: Taliban spokesman

“The world will not accept the imposition by force of a government in Afghanistan,” the official said, stressing the importance of engaging in serious negotiations to reach a durable resolution.

“Legitimacy and assistance for any Afghan government can only be possible if that government has a basic respect for human rights,” added the official.

On Sunday, more than 1,000 Afghan security forces fled to Tajikistan through the northern border following the Taliban’s attacks, with dozens arrested by the group.

Stalled peace process

The Afghan government and the Taliban have been engaging in a peace process facilitated by Qatar since 2019, with the two warring factions holding face-to-face dialogue in the Gulf state since September last year.

With talks seeing no breakthrough since, Qatar has suggested a proposal to both factions that includes approving third-party mediation and a binding time frame to advance the stalled peace talks before the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is completed.

According to a report by Voice of America [VOA], Qatar’s special envoy for counterterrorism and mediation of conflict resolution, Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani said his government shared the mediation proposal last month with representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgency.

The Qatari official also stressed that it should be an “impartial mediator that understands the cultural sensitivity of the conflict” in order to help the parties actively reach a peace settlement “in full conformity of the international law.”

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