Why Afghanistan's Peace Talks Won't Really Start Until the U.S. Leaves

MIN READJan 18, 2019 | 06:45 GMT

A picture of Taliban representatives attending an international talks on Afghanistan in Moscow on Nov. 9, 2018.

Taliban representatives attend international talks on Afghanistan in Moscow on Nov. 9, 2018. When it comes to Afghanistan, Washington's biggest problem will be figuring out how to balance the Taliban's demand for a complete withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces with Kabul's desire for troops to stay.


The United States is redoubling its efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan. In September 2018, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Popmpeo appointed Zalmay Khalilzad as the U.S. special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, but the 63-year-old, Afghan-born diplomat faces a daunting task in convincing the Taliban to agree to a cease-fire and participate in formal peace talks with President Ashraf Ghani's administration, all in a bid to end the 17-year war. Formal peace talks are likely to sketch out a political settlement that would likely grant the Taliban a share of power in a post-conflict government. Khalilzad has conducted three rounds of preliminary talks with the Taliban, but the insurgent movement abruptly withdrew from a fourth round of dialogue scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia this month due to its refusal to engage with officials representing the Afghan government, which the group views as illegitimate. The key, thus, is the...

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