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Progress made on counterterrorism, troop pullout as 16 days of US-Taliban talks ended

AT News Report

KABUL: After 16 consecutive days of extensive discussion, eventually on Tuesday evening, US peace envoy and Taliban negotiating team made progress on counterterrorism, and troops withdrawal.

The fifth round of the talks between the US and Taliban negotiators in Qatar concluded with agreements made between the two sides on some key issues under debate, sources familiar with the talks told TOLOnews.

Sources said that the agreement has been drafted on paper both English and Afghanistan languages.

Sources say nothing has been signed on the agreements made between the US and Taliban in Qatar talks and that the United States stance of “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” remains as it is.

The US Special Envoy ZalmayKhalilzad is expected to travel to Washington DC to meet with senior US officials, including possibly with President Donald Trump later this week. 

Taliban has agreed to cut ties with all terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda and, meanwhile, take actions against them, sources confirmed. 

The sources said that there has been an agreement on the withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan but there is no details available about a timeline of the troop pullout.

A couple of US bases are expected to remain in Afghanistan. 

Intra-Afghan talks and ceasefire have also been discussed in the Doha 16-day talks and put on paper.

Meanwhile, a meeting between a number of Afghan politicians and the Taliban, which was expected to be held in the next two weeks, has been delayed.

The Taliban have not made a comment on details of their negotiations with the US delegation so far.

Recently Taliban group said extensive talks were underway, and putt pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan on top of it.    

The issue of Afghanistan has two aspects—internal and external, the statement said, highlighting the focal of discussions on the external factors.  

So far the internal aspects of the war did not put in table of discussion with US officials, the statement added, while terming troop withdrawal and counter-terrorism efforts as important topics of discussions.

This comes as recently US said that ongoing talks in Qatar have been focused on four key issues where both sides trying to reach a final agreement.

Robert Palladino, a spokesperson for the US Department of State said four key issues are post-peace deal counterterrorism efforts, intra-Afghans talks, US forces withdrawal and ceasefire.

Moreover, to further facilitate the talks US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he might visit Qatar to give a helping hand in the Afghan peace talks.

“I am hoping he (Khalilzad) makes enough progress and I can travel there in a couple of weeks and help move it along a little bit myself,” Pompeo said.

At the same time there is conflicting reports on Taliban-US talks as some report says both sides agreed on troop’s pullout while another report suggests there was no conclusion and parties promised to meet again at end of March.

A New York Times Reporter, MujibMashal wrote in his twitter account that “16 days of US-Taliban talks ended without a clear breakthrough but progress and they will convene again later this month in hopes of finalizing. US officials say a text is ready on counter-terror side and includes al Qaeda. Withdrawal pillar is still slow progress, details not final.”

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