A Taliban training camp (PA)
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Taliban Prepare For Further Talks With The US

They are likely to focus on prisoner exchange, confidence-building measures, and ways to move from back-door meetings to formal negotiations...

A Taliban training camp (PA)

A library photo of a Taliban training camp (Picture: PA).

The Taliban is expected to send a delegation to a second round of talks with the US, aiming to focus on a potential prisoner exchange, confidence-building measures and further peace talks, according to group officials.

Whereas the Taliban has long insisted it will only engage in peace talks with the United States, Washington policy was until recently that peace talks should be Afghan-led.

The so-called “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” strategy was recently jettisoned as a failure by the Trump Administration and the Taliban agreed to meet in July with Alice Wells, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

At that time, the Taliban asked for recognition of their political office in Doha, Qatar, and secured the release of certain prisoners.

However, a request for a two-month ceasefire by the US delegation failed to reach an agreement.

The Taliban later described the discussions as "very important" and it was agreed that a second meeting would take place in September.

The US has refused to confirm or deny that meeting.

US Marines Afghanistan (Credit: BFBS)

Since then, the Taliban took the unprecedented step of agreeing to a ceasefire for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha in August.

US General John Nicholson, the then-commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, described the ceasefire as “an unprecedented opportunity, a window of opportunity, for peace right now."

Speaking to reporters from via video link from Afghanistan, General Nicholson said: "Despite the tough fight, we're seeing the process towards reconciliation and a peace that we have never seen before. The response to the ceasefire was frankly overwhelming.

"For the first time in 17 years, the Afghan people, the Afghan security forces and the Taliban all celebrated Eid al-Fitr together in peace."

Regardless, violence continues to erupt sporadically across Afghanistan. Despite the Eid al-Adha ceasfire, the Afghan Presidential Palace was attacked as President Ashraf Ghani gave a speech live on television to celebrate the holiday.

On 11 September, a suicide bomb exploded in the city of Jalalabad – close to Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan. 68 people have been reported dead and a further 165 were injured.

Government officials have warned that further outbreaks of violence are likely in the lead up to October’s parliamentary elections.