Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban

Germany in push to resurrect Afghan talks with Taliban

Germany, a leading donor and member of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan, has been talking with the Taliban and the Afghan government in an effort to restart peace talks to end 18 years of conflict, officials said.

While the Taliban have been talking with U.S. officials since October about a withdrawal of international troops, they have so far refused formal talks with the Western-backed government, which they dismiss as a “puppet” regime.

Berlin’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Markus Potzel, has visited Kabul for talks with the Afghan government and met Taliban officials in Doha at least twice this month.

“The current chance 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 help in this effort, then we should do it,” Potzel said.

“In the end only the Afghans themselves, including the Taliban, can decide upon the future of their country.”

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

But there has been no agreement yet on a ceasefire or a start to talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, both seen as key conditions for a settlement.

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