Taliban officials issued statements over the weekend confirming for the first time a new round of talks on the peace process with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. The talks took place in Qatar, where the Taliban’s diplomatic offices are located.
The Taliban rarely admits to talks ongoing at all, but even more significantly, officials revealed that the discussions are centering on the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan after 17 years, and that the US has agreed to that as a topic of discussion.
Taliban official Sayed Mohammed Akbar Agha says that more talks will be held in the “near future” on the US pullout, saying that he believes peace is possible, but only with the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
US willingness to talk not just peace but a withdrawal is unprecedented. In general, the US priority has been to keep troops in Afghanistan, though years of failure has at least some within the Trump Administration open to the idea of ending the conflict with a negotiated settlement.