(TOLO News): The United States is pressing the Taliban to agree on a ceasefire and engage in intra-Afghan talks before finalizing an agreement with Washington, sources familiar with the talks have said.
“The Taliban are ready to announce a ceasefire once an agreement is signed. But before the signing of the agreement, the Taliban so far is not ready to announce a permanent ceasefire,” said Jalaluddin Shinwari, a former member of the Taliban. “A couple of issues that the US has raised in its talks with the Taliban include a nationwide ceasefire and the start of intra-Afghan talks,” said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a political analyst. But the Taliban have conditions: “The intra-Afghan talks will be possible on condition that an agreement is signed with the US for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from the country,” said Suhain Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha. Taliban-Pakistan nexus The Afghan government meanwhile has said that it will be a difficult task to reach to a durable peace in the country unless the Taliban agree on a ceasefire and be accountable about  their links with Pakistan. Former vice president Joe Biden, during the Democratic debate on Thursday night, said that he “from the beginning” he was against sending more troops to Afghanistan. Biden also stressed the need for talks with the Taliban, adding that he will pull out all American troops from the country if elected president. “Since 2009, I was on the opposite side of that,” he said. “I’m the guy from the beginning who argued it was a big, big mistake to surge forces to Afghanistan. I argued against it constantly.” “The first thing I would do as president of the United States of America is to make sure that we brought all combat troops home and then enter a negotiation with the Taliban, but I would leave behind special forces in small numbers to be able to deal with a potential threat unless we got a very good negotiation accomplished to deal with the terrorists.” The Afghan government says that in order to achieve sustainable peace, there is a need to address the issue of Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan. “From the perspective of the government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, in order to maintain peace in Afghanistan, it is important to address the relations between Pakistan and the Taliban, seek commitment from Pakistan for peace in Afghanistan and a ceasefire –these are the topics that can pave the ground for direct talks,” said Latif Mahmoud, deputy spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani. In addition, officials from the High Peace Council (HPC) said that some Afghan political activists in their meetings with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalamy Khalilzad have said that leads talks with the Taliban should be one elected transparently by the votes of the people. “They will talk about the topic of peace once there is a clear result and transparent results,” said Haji Din Mohammad, deputy head of the HPC, referring to the election.   Earlier this week Khalilzad was in Kabul where he held talks with the Afghan political leaders.