With the UN, Turkey and Qatar convened Afghan talks in Istanbul expected later this month, the Special Representatives of the ‘extended’ troika (ET) of U.S., Russia, China and Pakistan have met in Doha, Qatar. The ET also separately met ‘representatives of the Islamic Republic negotiating team and of the Taliban’. With the U.S. and NATO having begun troop withdrawal before May 1 that will be completed by 9/11, an ET joint statement ‘stressed the safety of international troops should be ensured.’ While reiterating a March 18 ET statement of ‘not support(ing) the establishment of any government imposed by force’, the statement urged ‘the Government of the Islamic Republic and the High Council for National Reconciliation to engage openly with their Taliban counterparts regarding a negotiated settlement.’ It also “support(ed) a review of the status of designations of Taliban individuals and entities on the UN 1988 sanctions list’ noting ‘practical measures to reduce violence and sustained efforts to advance intra-Afghan negotiations by the Taliban will positively affect this review process.’ All this while a truck bomber killed at least 25 people and wounded over 60 in Logar, about 80 km from Kabul.
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