U.S. races for Taliban deal, but Afghan peace further away


„After nearly two decades in Afghanistan, the United States is racing to reach an agreement with the Taliban within two months, but a broader peace deal for the war-ravaged country looks far more elusive.

U.S. President Donald Trump, in a rare position widely backed by the rival Democratic Party, is impatient to pull the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, believing nothing more can be achieved from the military operation launched after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

On a visit to Kabul in late June, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States is seeking a deal with the Islamist extremist Taliban by Sept. 1 — before Afghanistan’s elections, which could throw in a new element of chaos.

U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad has met seven times with the Taliban and, in a potentially major first step, the insurgents have agreed to meet a wide range of Afghans starting Sunday in Qatar.

The Taliban have steadfastly refused to negotiate with the internationally recognized government in Kabul.“ (…)