USA soldiers killed in Afghanistan

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The US team in the negotiations is being led by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban negotiation team by Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai.

The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the insurgent group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.

Earlier this week he said United States forces have been stuck there acting like a "police force".

The talks are expected to focus on establishing a timeline for the USA withdrawal of its more than 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Two United States military personnel have been "killed in action" in Afghanistan, NATO announced, without saying how the pair died.

Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by September 1 - ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and USA presidential polls due in 2020.

Previous rounds of U.S. -Taliban negotiations have focused on issues including a U.S. troop withdrawal, a cease-fire, intra-Afghan negotiations to follow, and guarantees by the militant group not to harbor terrorist groups.

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Later, a US official said the two service members died in combat from small-arms fire without providing further information.

USA officials and Taliban spokesmen were quoted as saying that the ninth round of talks started on August 22 in the Qatari capital of Doha.

Afghanistan will not be significantly affected even if 5,000 USA forces leave in the next five months, an option that has been under discussion, he added in a nationally televised interview.

The Taliban has so far rejected holding direct talks with the Afghan government.

A Taliban source with knowledge of the negotiations in Qatar said the eighth round of talks that concluded earlier this month had broken down over disagreements around a cease-fire declaration from the Taliban, a major USA demand.

Two American service members were killed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, bringing the number of USA troops killed in Afghanistan to at least 14 in 2019.

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