US and Taliban closer to signing a historic peace deal

Hiiraan Xog, The the United States and Taliban officials are working closer together to sign a peace deal in Qatar to end one of the bloodiest conflicts in the former Soviet Union state of Afghanistan.

According to US chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, the two sides have agreed in principle to the framework of a deal in which the insurgents would guarantee Afghan territory is never used by terrorists, which could lead to a full pull-out of American troops in return for larger concessions from the Taliban.

The US negotiator said the concessions include the Taliban’s agreement to a cease-fire and to talk directly with the Afghan government, which the insurgents have persistently opposed in the past meetings to end the conflict.

“We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” Mr. Khalilzad said in an interview with The New York Times in Kabul. “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”

Mr. Khalilzad added: “We felt enough confidence that we said we need to get this fleshed out, and details need to be worked out.”

A senior American official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss continuing negotiations, said the Taliban delegation had asked for time to confer with their leadership about the American requirements for the insurgents’ agreement to hold direct talks with the Afghan government and to a cease-fire.

After nine years of halting efforts to reach a peace deal with the Taliban, the draft framework, though preliminary, is the biggest tangible step toward ending a war that has cost tens of thousands of lives and profoundly changed American foreign policy.

After more than 17 years since the start of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Now a new round of talks with the Taliban and the US has raised hopes that an end to the war could finally be in a sigh.

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