US, Taliban resume 'critical' talks on ending war

US, Taliban resume 'critical' talks on ending war
The seventh round of talks, which a Taliban spokesman described as 'critical' kicked off Saturday in the Qatari capital, Doha.
2 min read
30 June, 2019
The Taliban said the latest round of peace talks with the US is 'critical' [Getty]
A Taliban spokesman said the seventh and latest round of peace talks with the US is "critical," as the militant group meets with Washington's envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar, where it maintains a political office.

Suhail Shaheen told AP on Sunday that both sides are looking for "tangible results" as they try to hammer out the fine print of agreements that will see the eventual withdrawal of over 20,000 US and NATO troops from Afghanistan, and end America's longest-running war.

The agreements are also expected to provide guarantees that Afghanistan will not again harbour terrorists to carry out attacks worldwide.

The talks kicked off on Saturday in the Qatari capital just as news broke that at least 25 pro-government militiamen were killed in a Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan.

A potential deal would see the US agree to withdraw its troops after more than 17 years in Afghanistan, in return for the Taliban guaranteeing the country never again becomes a safe haven for violent extremist groups.

The negotiations have centred on four issues: counter-terrorism, the foreign troop presence, an intra-Afghan dialogue and a permanent ceasefire.

US officials have previously said they are hoping for a final deal by September 1 - before the upcoming Afghan presidential elections, which have already been delayed twice and are now set for September.

On Tuesday, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid an unannounced visit to Kabul and said he hoped for a peace deal with the Taliban "before September 1".

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