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Afghan sides edge reluctantly towards Istanbul talks

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


US officials and the Taliban share a common interest in keeping their 2020 agreement from collapsing, despite harsh language on both sides. They differ on what comes next: US diplomats are still trying to kickstart new negotiations in Istanbul, whereas the Taliban are setting preconditions and trying to downgrade the meeting's significance.


  • Wrangling over whether to negotiate at all will reduce the agenda's salience on human rights and legal protections for women.
  • Air cover for Afghan forces will continue from US and possibly UK carrier-launched jets, though not indefinitely.
  • External sponsors of Afghan factions including Iran, Turkey and Russia may increase support for their clients as Ghani pressures them.

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