KABUL (Dispatches) – The Taliban and U.S. negotiators are involved in discussions over a controversy of ceasefire and reduction in violence but cannot reach any understanding, a Pakistani newspaper has reported.
The U.S. side wants Taliban to declare a ceasefire across Afghanistan while the Taliban suggest reduction in violence that means they will not carry out attacks in major cities, according to a Taliban official, who was aware of the talks in Qatar.
"They (Americans) press for a general ceasefire and we have suggested reduction in violence. We consider both are same,” the Taliban leader told Daily Times.
The Taliban leadership council last week approved a brief halt to operations to inch towards signing of the early awaited peace agreement to end the longest war in Afghanistan.
Afghan government officials are also opposed to the phenomena of the reduction in violence and have been calling for a complete ceasefire before the start of talks.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Seddiqui has warned that talks will not produce results unless a general ceasefire is announced. Speaking at a news conference in Kabul at the weekend the government does not accept the notion of reduction in violence. Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai has, however, disagreed with Kabul’s stance to attach condition of ceasefire for talks.
Last week, the Taliban offered a brief ceasefire to the United States, a move which could lead to the resumption of talks between the two sides and withdrawal of thousands of American troops from Afghanistan.
Taliban officials familiar with the negotiations on Thursday confirmed that the offer was made to U.S. negotiators in Doha.
"It is an offer for a ceasefire either for seven or 10 days,” media outlets quoted an unnamed source as saying.
"It has been finalized and given to the Americans. It is going to pave the way for an agreement,” the source added.
This came hours after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said the Taliban had shown "a willingness” to reduce its attacks.
"Today, positive progress has been made, the Taliban have shown their willingness to reduce the violence, which was a demand... it’s a step towards the peace agreement,” said Qureshi in a video statement.
Islamabad has helped facilitate the talks between the Afghan Taliban and Washington in Qatar.
The Taliban and the U.S. had been negotiating the deal for a year, and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process "dead”.
Talks were later restarted between the two sides in December in Qatar, but were suspended again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the U.S.
The U.S. invaded the Central Asian country after the September 11, 2001 attacks under the banner of seeking to fight "terror” thousands of kilometers away from its own borders.
The invasion deposed the Taliban, but the group has never ceased its operations across Afghanistan, and has vowed to keep up its attacks until the withdrawal of all U.S.-led forces.
The U.S. began negotiations with the militants under President Donald Trump. The Taliban, however, abandoned the talks, citing lack of resolve on the part of Washington to end the military intervention.