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Nongovernment Afghan Delegates Set To Meet Taliban In Qatar


U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad met with Afghan women in Doha on July 6.

Dozens of Afghan delegates, including political figures, women, and other stakeholders, are attending an Intra-Afghan Dialogue Conference in Qatar involving negotiators from the Taliban.

The gathering in Doha on July 7 comes a day after the U.S. envoy helping to broker peace talks with the Taliban said that the current round of negotiations have been the "most productive" so far.

Zalmay Khalilzad made the comments while attending the seventh round of negotiations with representatives of the extremist group in Qatar.

The United States is seeking to draw the Taliban into direct talks with the government in Kabul. The extremist group has so far refused to talk to the Afghan government, calling it a puppet of the West.

U.S. officials have said they seek an agreement on a cease-fire and on full talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government before any peace deal is finalized.

Washington is looking to seal a deal with the Taliban ahead of Afghan presidential election scheduled for September to allow the withdrawal of foreign forces to begin.

Khalilzad on July 6 said the latest round of U.S.-Taliban talks “have been the most productive of the rounds we've had with the Talibs."

Those talks have been put on hold until July 9 to allow for the two-day Afghan conference, both sides said.

Taliban negotiators asserted that those attending are only doing so in a "personal capacity" and that the government of President Ashraf Ghani as been excluded.

The United States will not participate directly in the summit, which has been organized by Qatar and Germany.

Similar summits were held in Moscow in February and May.

Despite the talk of peace, violence has continued to cost dozens of lives in Afghanistan.

On July 5, at least two people were killed and some 20 others wounded in a bomb blast inside a Shi’ite mosque in the Afghan city of Ghazni in an attack claimed by the Islamic State terrorist group. The Taliban earlier denied involvement and condemned the bombing.

However, the Taliban did claim responsibility for an attack that killed four civilians and two members of the Afghan security forces and injured 116 others when a powerful car bomb rocked the Afghan capital on July 1

With reporting by AFP, tolonews, AP, and Reuters
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