The Guardian view on Afghanistan talks: hopes for peace, but at what cost? | Editorial

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Taliban meetings with Afghan powerbrokers, following negotiations with the US, hold out the prospect of an end to this long conflict. But women are especially and rightly concerned about the possible price

America’s longest-running war is edging closer toward a conceivable end. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Donald Trump acknowledged that talks with the Taliban might not succeed, but that “the hour has come to at least try for peace” in Afghanistan, noting his country’s casualties. He did not mention the Afghans who have died (24,000 civilians since 2009, and 45,000 members of the security forces in the last five years), let alone the nation’s broader suffering in the world’s deadliest conflict. Around half of Afghanistan’s population was not born when this war began, in 2001. Their elders have lived with conflict for most of the last four decades, since the Soviet invasion.

A country so fissured is united in its longing for peace as last year’s brief ceasefire, in which civilians, militants and soldiers celebrated together, showed. A US-Taliban agreement would be one step along that road. Yet Afghans ask at what cost a deal may come, conscious that those likely to pay the most are not negotiating the bill. Only two women are present at the talks between Taliban representatives and Afghan politicians, warlords and other powerbrokers in Moscow. These follow last month’s talks between US and Taliban negotiators in Qatar, which reached a draft framework under which the US would withdraw troops in exchange for guarantees that the country would not harbour terrorists.

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Link : The Guardian view on Afghanistan talks: hopes for peace, but at what cost? | Editorial

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