Spokesman of Afghan Taliban says its delegation is meeting US representatives again in Abu Dhabi for talks. Meanwhile, Pakistan's PM Imran Khan says Islamabad "helped" in dialogue between both sides.
Representatives of the Afghan Taliban are holding another round of talks with US officials, the group's spokesman said, as discussions to find solution to the 17-year war in Afghanistan entered second day in UAE on Tuesday.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement the insurgent group's representatives held "extensive rounds" of meetings with the high-ranking officials of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, US, and the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Monday over several issues.
"Preliminary talks were held with the said countries along with the [US] State Department's Special Representative Zalmai Khalilzad at the end of the day," the Taliban spokesman said on Tuesday.
"And meetings in this negotiations process shall continue today [Tuesday]."
Taliban seeking guarantee of Pakistan, S Arabia, UAE?
Taliban officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, said the US delegation was pressing for a six-month ceasefire as well as an agreement to name Taliban representatives to a future caretaker government.
The officials said the Taliban, fighting to drive foreign forces from Afghanistan, were resisting a ceasefire as they felt it would damage their cause and help US and Afghan forces.
"If these three countries - Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan - become guarantors and the US appoints the head of a caretaker government in Afghanistan that we nominate, then we can think about a ceasefire," one senior Taliban official said.
There was no immediate comment from the US embassy in Kabul.
On Tuesday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said Islamabad "helped in the dialogue between Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi."
"Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people. Pakistan will be doing everything within its power to further the peace process," Khan wrote on Twitter.
Pakistan has helped in the dialogue between Taliban and the US in Abu Dhabi. Let us pray that this leads to peace and ends almost three decades of suffering of the brave Afghan people. Pakistan will be doing everything within its power to further the peace process.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) December 18, 2018
Flurry of diplomatic efforts
The meetings are the latest in a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed at bringing the Taliban to the table for negotiations with the Afghan government on ending the conflict which began with the US invasion in 2001.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced in late November the establishment of a 12-person negotiating team to talk peace with the Taliban.
And the Afghan presidential negotiating team is waiting in the lobby of the hotel while Americans are meeting the Taliban in the presidential suite. Then Americans coming down to the lobby to say sorry Taliban won’t meet you #ProximityTalks https://t.co/xR5vvKxeYK— BILAL SARWARY (@bsarwary) December 17, 2018
No meeting with Kabul officials
But Taliban has consistently refused to meet with the Kabul government.
On Monday as well, Taliban representatives didn't hold talks with Kabul officials.
On the first day of talks, Taliban said it sought "withdrawal of occupation forces from Afghanistan, ending the oppression being carried out by US and allies, and "views were exchanged with the said countries about peace and reconstruction of Afghanistan."
An Afghan government team travelled to Abu Dhabi "to begin proximity dialogue with the Taliban delegation and to prepare for a face-to-face meeting between the two sides", government spokesman Haroon Chakansuri said in a statement.
Mujahid dismissed reports of a meeting as "propaganda".
Basically the Taliban wants to cut a deal with the #US that will result in a Washington-approved Taliban-ISI alliance. #Afghanistan is inconsequential. #Pakistan is not. Other countries in the neighbourhood, including #India, are irrelevant. https://t.co/94lKYJrJpg— Kanchan Gupta (@KanchanGupta) December 17, 2018
The Taliban says the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace but have said that issues including mutual recognition with the Kabul government, constitutional changes and women's rights can be negotiated.