Taliban, US agree to draft peace framework


Afghan authorities have previously complained of being excluded from the discussions in Qatar, and warned that any deal between the United States and the Taliban would require Kabul's endorsement.

But a months-long diplomatic push by the United States to broker talks culminated in six days of meetings between Washington and the insurgents in Doha, igniting hopes of a breakthrough more than 17 years after the USA invasion.

Before U.S. forces intervened after the September 11, 2001, attacks, the Taliban controlled the country through a brutal and oppressive regime.

"Frankly, if the USA troops withdraw from Afghanistan then the promise of good behaviour from the Taliban is really of no effect".

The United States is committed to withdrawing foreign forces from Afghanistan to end more than 17 years of war, a senior US government official said on Monday, speaking after six days of American peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants.

Khalilzad told the Times he was attempting to persuade the Taliban to negotiate the future relationship directly with Kabul and denied an interim government had been discussed by USA representatives.

Taliban sources told Reuters on Saturday that the United States had agreed on the withdrawal of foreign troops within 18 months of the signing of a pact but the USA official said a timeline was not discussed.

He made the remarks in a televised speech after US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told the New York Times that USA and Taliban officials have agreed in principle on the framework of a peace agreement.

After six days of talks in Doha, Qatar, Khalilzad few to Kabul to consult with the Afghan government.

He said the deal could lead to a full pullout of USA troops in return for a cease-fire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government.

Ghani, in Monday's address to the nation, also stressed American and other foreign forces are in Afghanistan because they are needed here and that if there is to be any downsizing or pullout, the Kabul government will have to play a role in the talks.

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The Trump administration's strategy has been to put pressure on the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.

United States peace envoy briefed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani regarding his recent talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

"Our commitment is to provide peace and to prevent any possible disaster", Ghani said in his address. No Afghan wants foreign troops to remain in their country indefinitely.

The points of contention include a ceasefire, a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the Taliban's ongoing refusal to speak to Kabul.

Khalilzad has met with the Taliban on a number of occasions in recent months in the latest bid to end America's longest war.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani assured his people that their rights would not be compromised in the name of peace with the Taliban.

Ghani's office said he and Khalilzad met late Sunday in Kabul to discuss details from the talks.

The Taliban have "committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for worldwide terrorist groups or individuals", he was quoted as saying.

In Monday's address to the nation, Ghani also stressed that U.S. and other foreign forces are in Afghanistan because they are needed here and that if there is to be any downsizing or pullout, the Kabul government will have to play a role in the talks.

On Friday, Mr Ghani said more than 45,000 members of the country's security forces had been killed since he became leader in 2014.

Both U.S. officials and the hardline Islamic group hailed progress after the talks on Saturday with Khalilzad.