New round of US-Taliban talks in Doha

Kabul: A new round of peace talks between the Taliban and the US got under way in Qatar on Wednesday, as the foes continue to seek a way out of America’s longest war.
The latest negotiations come as pressure builds for some sort of breakthrough in the gruelling Afghan conflict, with Washington jostling for a resolution.
According to a Taliban spokesman, the group’s top political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar met with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the men discussed “key aspects for a peaceful resolution of the Afghan issue”.
Khalilzad, who has stressed “there is no final agreement until everything is agreed”, has previously outlined the basic framework for a deal.
The pact would see the US agree to pull its forces from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban vowing to stop terror groups ever again using the country as a safe haven.
According to the Taliban, Baradar told Khalilzad it was vital those two key points “be finalised”. The US Embassy in Kabul confirmed only that talks were taking place.
Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan, has spent several months shuttling between Asian capitals and Washington in a bid to build consensus for a deal.
US President Donald Trump provided additional momentum when in December he told advisers he wanted to pull about half of America’s 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.
Despite several rounds of negotiations between the US and the Taliban, none of the talks thus far have included the Afghan government, which the Taliban views as a puppet regime. Separately, thousands of Afghan politicians and representatives are meeting in Kabul this week at a “loya jirga” peace summit to discuss conditions under which they could envision a deal with the Taliban.