Deputy Spokesperson for the U.S. State Department Robert Palladino has said the U.S. and Taliban representatives have had ‘meaningful” progress in the fifth round of peace talks in Qatar which ended on Tuesday.
“These have been the most substantive talks with the Taliban to date,” Palladino told reporters on Tuesday.
He stressed that the Taliban have agreed that peace will require both sides to fully address four “core” issues including counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive cease-fire.
“When that agreement, in draft, is finalized, the Taliban and an inclusive Afghan negotiating team that includes the Afghan Government and other Afghans will begin intra-Afghan negotiations of a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire,” Palladino said.
It comes as the U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that he was returning for consultations with partners after wrapping up the U.S. longest round of consecutive peace talks with Taliban in Doha.
He said they have “agreed in draft” on the issues of counter-terrorism assurances and troop pullout from Afghanistan.
“My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed,” Khalilzad tweeted.
Meanwhile, the Taliban in a statement on Tuesday also confirmed that the sides agreed in a draft regarding the two issues.
“Both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting, the date of which shall be set by both negotiation teams,” the statement said.
Around 14,000 U.S. troops are based in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces, while many Afghans are concerned of abrupt U.S. pullout from the war-torn country, following the peace talks.