Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban

Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban
Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban

Germany, a leadingdonor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talkingwith the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talksto end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Talibanhave been talking with U.S. officials since October about a withdrawal ofinternational troops, they have so far refused formal talks with theWestern-backed government, which they dismiss as a "puppet" regime.

Berlin's specialrepresentative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabulfor talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at leasttwice this month.

"The currentchance for a process towards a more peaceful Afghanistan should not be missed.If the friends of Afghanistan – and Germany is one of them – together can helpin this effort, then we should do it," Potzel said.

"In the endonly the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the futureof their country."

The chief U.S.negotiator in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, in March said that a draftagreement had been reached on a withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a commitmentby the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as Al Qaeda.

But there has beenno agreement yet on a ceasefire or a start to talks between the Afghangovernment and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

An Afghan delegationhad been due to meet Taliban officials in the Qatari capital Doha last month tobuild the basis for possible negotiations, but the meeting was cancelled at thelast minute after a dispute over the number of participants.

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