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"The United States is exploring all avenues to advance a peace process in close consultation with the Afghan government", said a statement released by the U.S. State Department after her return.

The Taleban held their first direct contact with a United States (US) official in a preliminary discussion about future peace talks on Afghanistan, a senior official with the insurgent group said yesterday.

This week's meeting with Alice Wells, the U.S.'s top diplomat for South Asia, was an attempt to jump-start talks on ending Washington's longest military engagement, a senior Taliban official told The Associated Press early Saturday.

It is U.S. officials who are being more evasive about the process, with the State Department having affirmed that the USA is "exploring all avenues to advance a peace process", but the delegation itself so far refusing to either confirm or deny that any talks had taken place.

The Islamist insurgency had long called for direct talks with Washington.

He said the meeting was held in Qatar, where the Taleban maintained a political office since 2013. He added that they also discussed Taliban participation in the Afghan government.




A general view of the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar. Over the years, as waves of American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops have come and left in repeated cycles, the government has slowly retrenched and ceded chunks of territory to the Taliban, cleaving Afghanistan into disparate parts and ensuring a conflict with no end in sight.

The Taliban have repeatedly declared that they would not enter talks until US -led foreign troops left the country.

The New York Times reports that Trump's State Department is negotiating directly with the Taliban, with no involvement by Afghanistan's government.

The current leadership, most of whom are Mullah Omar's contemporaries, still believe their future in Afghanistan can be guaranteed only if the US's concerns are addressed. However, an important condition of Taliban for peace, in the words of one member of the delegation was the absence of representatives of the government of Afghanistan in further negotiations.

His release was eventually secured in May 2014 in exchange for the five Taliban prisoners, who are living in Doha.


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