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August 24, 2019

US, Taliban to sign peace deal within next few days: Zaeef

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August 24, 2019

KABUL: A former member of the Taliban says the agreement between the US and the Taliban will be finalized within the next few days as the ninth round of the negotiations began in Doha on Thursday.

Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served as Taliban’s ambassador for Pakistan when the group ruled the country in the late 1990s, told on Friday that the deputy leader of the group, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will sign the peace agreement with the US. Zaeef said the US negotiators want to mention in the agreement that the Taliban will not have any relations with terrorist groups after the peace agreement.

The two sides in Doha are expected to discuss ways to implement the peace agreement. A Taliban spokesman said the US forces top commander Gen. Scott Miller was also present on the first day of the talks in Doha. Zaeef said the US and the Taliban have agreed on a full withdrawal of foreign forces in 15 to 24 months and on counterterrorism assurances.

“It will be in contravention of the [peace] agreement if the US forces remain in the country after a peace deal,” Zaeef said, referring to the reports about a possible presence of US intelligence in Afghanistan if it pulls all its troops out of Afghanistan by 2020. According to him, China, Russia and Pakistan will be the guarantors of the agreement from the Taliban side.

Zaeef said the intra-Afghan negotiations will begin a week after the US-Taliban peace agreement. He did not reject rift within the group. “The future of Afghanistan will be discussed in the intra-Afghan negotiations,” Zaeef said. This comes as the Afghan government has said the list of the peace negotiating team is ready and that it will be announced after an agreement between the US and the Taliban.

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