Monday 19 August 2019
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US, Taliban wrap up talks in Doha

KABUL: Taliban and US negotiators have wrapped up their latest round of talks for a deal that would see America shrink its troop presence in Afghanistan, both sides said Monday.The two sides have been negotiating in Doha over the past year for a pact that would see the Pentagon begin to withdraw its 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.Speculation has reached fever pitch in Kabul in recent days that an announcement about a deal may be imminent, but tweets from the Taliban and Zalmay Khalilzad -- the US special envoy leading the talks -- suggest work remains to be done. We ve concluded this round of talks that started on Aug 3 between the US and the Taliban. Over the last few days, the two sides focused on technical details. They were productive. I am on my way back to DC to consult on next steps, Khalilzad wrote.Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the talks had stretched past midnight. Work was tedious effective. Both sides agreed to consult their respective leaderships for next steps, he wrote on Twitter.On Sunday, Khalilzad tweeted: I hope this is the last Eid where Afghanistan is at war. Washington is keen to end its 18-year involvement in Afghanistan, where it has spent more than $1 trillion, and President Donald Trump has said he wants troops out.In return, the Taliban would commit to various security guarantees, including that the Islamist hardliners who long harboured al-Qaeda would not allow Afghanistan to become a militant safe haven. A US-Taliban agreement would not in itself bring Afghanistan s war to an end, as the insurgents would still need to make a deal with the Kabul government. Many Afghans had been hoping for a ceasefire to be announced over Eid. This has not happened, but recent days have been relatively calm.


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