A fresh round of US- Taliban peace talks began today in Doha, Qatar, with officials describing it as the “most crucial” phase of negotiations.
Senior officials said a peace agreement could be expected at the end of the eighth round of talks, potentially before August 13.
In a tweet, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US peace envoy for Afghanistan, wrote, “just got to Doha to resume talks with the Taliban. We are pursuing a peace agreement not a withdrawal agreement.”
“A peace agreement that enables withdrawal. Our (US) presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based, and any withdrawal will be conditions based,” he added.
There are currently around 20,000 foreign troops, mostly American, in Afghanistan, to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.
“The issue of forces withdrawal has prolonged the peace talks and delayed the deal,” a senior Taliban commander told Reuters.
Despite the peace talks, fighting in Afghanistan has not subsided. Over 1,500 civilians were killed and injured in July, according to a statement by the United Nations of Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
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