The United States and the Taliban have resolved differences in peace talks over the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and guarantees from the insurgents that they will cut ties with other extremist groups, a Taliban official said Tuesday.
The U.S. side did not immediately provide details about the latest round of talks held in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. But Zalmay Khalilzad, the American envoy who has been leading the talks since they began late last year, tweeted that they had made “excellent progress.”
The two sides have been meeting for the last two days, and technical teams were continuing discussions on Tuesday in Doha. The Taliban official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details of the negotiations.
Khalilzad, who has been tasked with finding a peaceful resolution to the nearly 18-year war — America’s longest conflict — has made intra-Afghan talks and a permanent cease-fire priorities in the negotiations. But the Taliban have continued to sideline the Kabul government, dismissing it as a U.S. puppet and refusing to recognize it.
The Taliban have kept up a near-daily rate of deadly attacks, despite holding several rounds of peace talks with Khalilzad since his appointment almost a year ago. The Taliban now control roughly half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest since 2001, when the U.S.-led invasion toppled their government after it harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. [Continue reading…]