US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is preparing to meet with Taliban and Afghan government negotiators in Qatar, whose talks appear encouraging. This encounter occurs in a context of accelerating withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
Mike Pompeo will attend these meetings separately in Doha, the capital of the emirate. The Secretary of State will also meet with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Ben Hamad Al-Thani, during his stopover in Doha. The city is a Taliban diplomatic base to negotiate with Kabul.
The US Foreign Minister is currently on tour in seven countries in Europe and the Middle East, while outgoing President Donald Trump is stepping up his end-of-term priorities.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced the upcoming withdrawal of some 2,000 soldiers from Afghanistan, thus accelerating the schedule established in an agreement signed in February in Doha between Washington and the Taliban that confirmed the complete withdrawal of troops in mid-2021.
Trump has repeatedly promised to end “endless wars,” including in Afghanistan, longest US intervention in history, launched after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Negotiations in progress since September
Is here first time since September 12 The Taliban are talking to the Afghan government in Doha, but those talks collapsed almost immediately due to disagreements.
The talks showed little sign of progress, but multiple sources told AFP on Friday that both sides appeared to have resolved a key point of disagreement on the negotiation rules.
The Doha peace negotiations were opened after the signing of an agreement between the Taliban and Washington in February, in which the United States agreed to withdraw its troops, in exchange for security guarantees and at the start of the talks.
Despite these negotiations, violence has increased throughout the country, the Taliban multiply daily attacks against the Afghan security forces.
The withdrawal of some troops before January 15, less than a week before Joe Biden took office, has been criticized by Kabul residents, who fear it will encourage the Taliban to unleash a new wave of fighting.
Afghan civilians have long been the main victims of the conflict. Kabul authorities also fear that the Taliban harden their positions in the negotiations, where issues such as women’s rights are at stake.