Having wrapped up the fifth round of Qatar talks between the US and the Taliban, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad reported “real strides” were made in the negotiations, which ended off with draft agreements on two key issues.
Khalilzad said that the deal is built around four elements, the main two being the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a Taliban guarantee to prevent al-Qaeda and ISIS from operating within Afghanistan. These two elements are the ones that are agreed to in the draft.
Beyond that, the two elements agreed in principle but not draft are dialogue between Taliban and the Afghan government, along with the comprehensive ceasefire. No deal has been signed on any of these matters.
But Khalilzad suggested that the draft includes a timeline for the US withdrawal, which was a big sticking point. He didn’t say what that timeline is, but the Taliban wanted the US out within a year, and the Pentagon was planning for a five year drawdown at a snail’s pace.
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