Mullah Baradar optimistic on progress in US-Taliban talks

KABUL (TOLO news): Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban’s deputy leader and head of the group’s Qatar office, is optimistic about the progresses made in the marathon talks between the US and Taliban negotiators in Doha which ended after 16 days on Tuesday, according to an audio interview of the Taliban’s deputy leader made public on Thursday.

The audio interview was released by Taliban’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a Twitter post. In this interview, Baradar says that significant progresses were made in the Qatar talks and that he hopes that more developments are made in the future.

Baradar says he hopes that political and Jihadi leaders, in Afghanistan, will not leave the country and will not stand against them (the Taliban), because, according to him, the political and Jihadi figures as well as the Taliban have many experiences from the past.

Baradar says that the future system in Afghanistan will not harm anyone and that Afghanistan wants a relation with the world which other countries have between each other.

This comes after the US Department of State said on Wednesday that the Taliban in talks with the US negotiators made meaningful progress in Qatar talks.

“We’ve received reports back from Special Representative Khalilzad that they’ve had meaningful progress,” Robert Palladino, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, told reporters at a daily briefing in Washington on Tuesday.

He said that in the fresh round of talks, the two sides were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles.

“In this round of talks, we were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles, counterterrorism assurances and troop withdrawal. And when that agreement in draft is finalized, Taliban and an inclusive Afghan negotiating team that includes the Afghan government and other Afghans to begin intra-Afghan negotiation for a political settlement and a comprehensive ceasefire,” he added.

Hours after the news broke on Qatar talks, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet that he wrapped up a marathon round of talks with Taliban in Doha.

Khalilzad said peace requires agreement on four issues: counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.

“In January talks, we “agreed in principle” on these four elements. We’re now “agreed in draft” on the first two,” he said in a tweet.

He said the conditions for peace have improved and that it is clear all sides want to end the war. “Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” he said.

Khalilzad said when the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.

“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed,” Khalilzad concluded.

Pallandino said Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad will be returning to Washington and he will be consulting with secretary Pompeo as well as the inter-agency and also partner countries in this process.

“Much works need to be done. As special representative Khalilzad has said nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” Palladino added.

Later on the Taliban said in a statement that the United States and Taliban had deep discussions on two issues agreed in January.

The group said no deal has been signed by the negotiating teams and that they will come together after consulting their leaderships about the current developments.