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Afghan government blames Taliban for stalling peace talks

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Afghan authorities lambasted the Taliban Wednesday for failing to actively participate in peace talks seeking to end the country’s long-running war.

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Following months of deliberations and a first round that failed to achieve any major breakthrough, the Afghan government and Taliban are meeting again in Qatar -- but so far only discussing the agenda for round two.

“Unfortunately, the talks are going at a snail’s pace,” Waheed Omar, media adviser to President Ashraf Ghani told reporters.

“The Taliban have no clear vision. We see no changes in them.”

Kabul is pushing for a permanent ceasefire and to protect governance arrangements in place since the ouster of the Taliban by a US-led invasion following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.

But since the second round of talks began on January 6 in Doha there has been no significant announcement about how negotiations were proceeding.

The talks have been marred by a surge in violence, with a recent spate of high-profile killings of officials, judges, journalists and activists leaving the war-weary country reeling.

Omar said there was no plan to release more Taliban prisoners to help spur the talks along, saying the government’s previous experience of releasing insurgents failed to reduce fighting.

“The Taliban not only did not reduce the violence, but they increased the violence,” Omar said.

Before the start of the peace talks on September 12, authorities released more than 5,000 Taliban inmates as demanded by the group in a deal with Washington last year.

In return, the Taliban agreed to give some security guarantees and participate in peace talks aimed at ending the country’s war.

Under the landmark deal signed last year, the US pledged to pull out all foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.

Both the Taliban and the Afghan government are anxiously awaiting President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration and any new policy directions from the incoming administration.

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