Experts flag impact of latest U.S. -Taliban talks

India should encourage Taliban to shun violence and become mainstream in Afghanistan Menon

USA negotiators held six days of talks with the Taliban in Qatar last week. However, they have held four rounds of talks with the USA since past year.

Underlining the parlous backdrop to the talks, the Taliban on Monday claimed to have killed or wounded 33 United States and Afghan forces in two recent incidents, according to the SITE monitoring group.

The United States and the Taliban are moving forward on hashing out a peace deal that could pave the way to USA troops withdrawal from Afghanistan, according to the us official in charge of negotiations.

Both the Taliban and the U.S. touted "progress" over the weekend, and the New York Times cited Washington's special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday as saying they have formed "a draft of a framework", though he warned details need to be fleshed out and major sticking points remain.

The statement from Ghani's office also claimed that the Taliban demanded from Khalilzad the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan, but that there was also no agreement on that issue.

"We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement", The New York Times quoted Khalilzad as saying on January 28 in an interview in Kabul.

In a series of tweets sent Saturday, Khalilzad said the parties "made significant progress on vital issues" after six days of talks in Doha. The insurgents also agreed to enter talks with the Afghan government and to a cease-fire, though another United States official says the Taliban negotiators asked for time to clear that with their leaders.

Asked whether he had been tasked with planning a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan, Shanahan said: "I have not".

Ghani has warned that any discussions of a future interim government or other power-sharing agreement must only be discussed in direct talks between Afghan and Taliban representatives.

In a televised address on January 28, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to enter "serious" negotiations with the government in Kabul and "accept Afghans' demand for peace".

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"Our commitment is to provide peace and to prevent any possible disaster", Mr Ghani said in his address to the nation on Monday.

However, there is still no accord on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal or a ceasefire - major issues on which previous attempts at negotiations have foundered. No Afghan wants foreign troops to remain in their country indefinitely.

Trump is planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 USA troops in Afghanistan, a US official said in December, in the latest sign that the US president's patience is thinning with America's longest war and overseas military interventions.

Western diplomats describe Ghani as being in a tight spot, with no authority to decide on the troop departure and the final decision to declare the ceasefire resting with the Taliban.

Australian combat troops were withdrawn in December 2013, but 400 personnel remain in Afghanistan as trainers and advisers.

"The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for global terrorist groups or individuals", he said.

The government, meanwhile, is also facing a presidential election scheduled for July - the middle of the Taliban's traditional fighting season, with fears the poll could unleash a wave of deadly violence as militants seek to disrupt the vote.

Afghan security forces are already taking staggering losses, with 45,000 killed since late 2014, and morale is low.

The Taliban and USA officials have agreed to continue negotiations, though no date has been publicly announced.

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