Taliban official says group spoke with U.S. diplomat

Taliban official says group spoke with U.S. diplomat

Both the US and the Afghan government say they are interested in ending the 17-year Islamist insurgency led by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan war has been on since 2001 after the USA invaded Afghanistan to wipe out Al Qaeda.

"You can't call it peace talks.These are a series of meetings for initiating formal and purposeful talks".

Although the talks were not confirmed by the State Department, Taliban officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed talks were held in Doha, Qatar and termed them "friendly" and "positive".

The U.S. has neither confirmed nor denied the meeting.

The face-to-face talks in Doha with Alice Wells, a state department deputy assistant secretary, were "very important", one Taliban official said.

Note that the United States of America is not yet confirmed, nor denied the fact of negotiations.

The strategy depends on the Afghan government's willingness to pull back its own forces.

It is not clear when the next meeting would be held, but they were certain there would be one.

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Although the Taliban refused an offer by President Ashraf Ghani to extend the Eid ceasefire, behind-the-scenes contacts have continued and the government has said it is considering another ceasefire during next month's Eid-al Qurban holiday.

A US-led invasion drove the hardline Taliban from power in 2001, as part of a crackdown against Islamist militants in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In Kabul, the Afghanistan President's office, ARG, on Saturday welcomed any support for peace efforts.

Shifting gears on Afghanistan, the Trump administration has reportedly asked American-backed Afghan troops to retreat from sparsely populated areas, a move that would ensure the Taliban will remain in control of vast stretches of the country.

The current leadership, most of whom are Mullah Omar's contemporaries, still believe their future in Afghanistan can be guaranteed only if the US's concerns are addressed.

Waziri declined to comment, however, on whether the government was aware that the Americans had met with the Taliban in Doha.

There was also a suggestion at the time that the talks would include the freedom of five Taleban held in the United States prison at Guantanamo Bay and the release of captured U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl.

Some 3,550 global coalition troops, including 2,413 Americans, have died in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001.

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