The United States and Afghan Taliban group resumed their eighth round of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha here on Sunday, hoping to halt 18 years of fighting.
According to a Taliban source, efforts were under way to organize a direct meeting between the U.S. envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Mullah Baradar, a co-founder of Taliban.
Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesman for the organisation’s political office in Doha, said on Twitter on Saturday that if an agreement was finalised, “it will allow all foreign forces to exit Afghanistan within a certain time period and open the door for talks” with the Afghan government.
The United States, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban from power in 2001, wants the group to guarantee that Afghanistan will not become a haven for terrorists, while Taliban is seeking assurances from Washington that all foreign forces will withdraw from the country.
Last month, the Taliban and senior Afghan officials held so-called intra-Afghan talks in Doha, pledging to deliver a “road map for peace” in Afghanistan.
In another sign of progress, the Afghan government has formed a negotiating team for separate talks with the Taliban that diplomats hope could be held as early as later this month.
Despite negotiations, the fighting has not subsided, as the civilian casualty rates across Afghanistan jumped back to record levels last month, according to the United Nations.
More than 1,500 civilians were killed or wounded in the conflict in July, the highest monthly toll so far in 2019 and the deadliest single month since May 2017.