The United States and the Taliban last week ended their longest direct negotiations yet for peace in Afghanistan with both sides reporting progress. At the end of the 13-day meeting in Qatar, the U.S. envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the two sides compromised on draft agreements over a “withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures.” The measures require the Taliban to break ties with and not harbor other groups designated as terrorists.
“It’s clear all sides want to end the war,” Khalilzad said. “Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.”
The Taliban also confirmed some progress, but noted it did not agree to a cease-fire. The group also remains unwilling to speak with the government in Afghanistan, which it views as a U.S. puppet. Afghan officials remain upset over their exclusion from the peace efforts.
It is not clear when the next talks will begin, but the Taliban has the upper hand. The United States is desperate to start pulling out some of its 14,000 troops from the country after 17 years of war. The insurgent group also continues targeted attacks against security forces in Afghanistan.
“What we’re getting is a deal that doesn’t end in peace” Hamdullah Mohib, the Afghan national security adviser, told The New York Times. —O.O