The Top US Envoy for South Asia, Alice Wells, met with Taliban Officials for peace talks in Doha, Qatar on July 23rd, as reported by The Wall Street Journal on July 26th, citing a State Department Official, who remains anonymous.
The unnamed State Department official also claimed that: “any negotiations over the political future of Afghanistan will be between the Taliban and Afghan government.”
The senior official for the State Department’s South and Central Asia Affairs met with the Taliban this week to attempt and find a way to end Afghanistan’s 17-year war, the Wall Street Journal quotes anonymous sources, who are familiar with the matter.
A member of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban leadership council, allegedly confirmed to AFP that there has indeed been a meeting on Monday. The undisclosed Taliban leader did not mention Wells’s name, he only claimed it was “a woman” in the US delegation. The anonymous Taliban member also claimed that the talks were aimed at building trust between the sides and that the next meeting, which could happen as early as July 31st, would be more important.
On July 23rd, the US Embassy in Qatar, in a statement, confirmed that Department of State South and Central Asian Affairs Senior Bureau Official Alice Wells and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defense Affairs HE Dr Khalid bin Mohamed Al Attiyah met, however it is not disclosed if whether that happened in Doha. In the statement, the US commends Qatar’s ongoing support for peace in Afghanistan. In the meeting, the two officials discussed recent progress toward an Afghan-owned, and Afghan-led peace process. The statement also continued “Senior Bureau Official Wells welcomed the Qatari government’s support for the cease-fire last month in Afghanistan, and highlighted the deep appreciation of the United States for the Qatari government’s constructive partnership and dedication to Afghanistan.”
She met with Qatari government officials “to discuss recent progress towards an Afghan-owned, and Afghan-led peace process.” Undisclosed officials noted that there were no other meetings to this describe at the moment and that the US “is exploring all avenues to advance a peace process in close consultation with the Afghan government.”
The State Department’s statement was: “Ambassador Wells welcomed the Qatari government’s constructive partnership and dedication to Afghanistan and expressed the deep US appreciation for efforts to reach a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”
A recent three-day ceasefire for the holiday Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan was enforced by the leadership of both sides. Security Forces and Taliban were making selfies and exchanging hugs in the streets. The calm raised hopes for the beginning of peace-talks.
The Taliban has long refused direct talks with the Afghan government, demanding instead to negotiate with Washington. The US stance on the matter is that all peace-talks must be between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
On July 16th, US General John Nicholson spoke with Afghan officials in Kandahar, where he reportedly said the US was “ready” to talk to the Taliban. However, later he claimed his comments were misunderstood and that he was just reiterating US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words, who in June claimed that the US was prepared to “support, facilitate and participate in talks.”
In a statement NATO’s Resolute Support mission Nicholson said, “The United States is not a substitute for the Afghan people or the Afghan government.”
There have been numerous rumors of talks that have already happened between the Taliban and the US, during the past two weeks, however nothing has been officially confirmed.