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Contact groups hold meeting in Doha amid surge in violence

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: Contact groups of the negotiating teams of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and Taliban held a meeting on Monday night in Doha, but it ended without an agreement over the procedural rules.
The meeting follows the involvement of US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and envoys of other countries who are supporting Afghan peace.
“A meeting was held between the contact groups and during the meeting, the remaining contested issues were discussed, and it was agreed that the meetings would continue,” Nader Nadery, a spokesman for Afghan negotiating team, said yesterday.
Delegates from the Afghan republic’s negotiating team said an agreement on the procedural rules of the negotiations might be reached within the next two days.
The two sides have agreed on 18 out of 20 articles for the procedural rules, but two main articles—religious basis for the talks and connection of the US-Taliban deal with the negotiations—remain unsolved. The Taliban insists that if a dispute emerges during the negotiations, the solution must be sought using the Hanafi jurisprudence and that the foundation for the talks should be the peace deal that the group signed with the US in late February.
But the Afghan republic’s team has rejected the Taliban’s demands and has suggested some alternatives.
Sources said on Monday that Khalilzad met with negotiation teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban on Sunday to end the deadlock of Afghanistan’s negotiations.
The peace negotiations between teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban started on September 12; however, so far, direct talks have not started because of disagreements on procedural rules for the negotiations.
Two weeks ago, Khalilzad landed in Doha, causing speculation that his mission was to mediate between the two sides. But Khalilzad himself said that he traveled to Doha for the purpose of implementing the US-Taliban peace agreement and to assist in attempts to reduce violence.
Meanwhile, Gen. Scott Miller, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the violence needs to be reduced.
“The Taliban need to immediately stop their offensive actions in Helmand province and reduce their violence around the country. It is not consistent with the US-Taliban agreement and undermines the ongoing Afghan peace talks,” US forces commander Gen. Scott Miller said.
Also, the US forces-Afghanistan spokesman Sonney Leggett said: “Over the past two days USFOR-A has conducted several targeted strikes in Helmand to defend ANDSF forces under attack by Taliban fighters, consistent with the US-Taliban agreement.”
The USFOR-A has and will continue to provide support in defense of the ANDSF under attack by the Taliban, he said.
The clashes have taken place on the outskirts of Lashkargah city, the center of Helmand, for the past few days, forcing dozens of families to leave their homes in search for safe places.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi at a press conference in Kabul on Monday said more reinforcements are being sent to Helmand to suppress the Taliban.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan news, us, China & World News.