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U.S. envoy: United States, Taliban reach draft agreement in peace talks

By Daniel Uria
U.S. envoy: United States, Taliban reach draft agreement in peace talks
U.S. presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday that the United States and the Taliban have reached a draft agreement on counter-terrorism assurances and troop withdrawal. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo

March 12 (UPI) -- The United States and the Taliban have reached a draft agreement on counter-terrorism assurances and troop withdrawal in a step toward ending the 17-year-long war, U.S. presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday.

Khalilzad wrote on Twitter that "the conditions for peace have improved" after a round of talks with Taliban leaders in Qatar's capital, Dohar, as the two sides had agreed on two of the four issues needed to end the conflict.

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"Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire," he wrote. "In January talks, we 'agreed in principle' on these four elements. We're now 'agreed in draft' on the first two."

According to the January talks, the Taliban would promise not to allow al-Qaida or any terror group to use Afghanistan as a base of operations in exchange for a U.S. troop withdrawal.

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The Taliban issued its own statement, saying "progress was achieved" on the issues Khalilzad mentioned, NBC News reported.

"For now, 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," it said.

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Khalilzad said the Taliban and "other Afghans, including the government," will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire after the draft agreements concerning withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures are finalized.

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"It's clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides," he wrote.

Khalilzad added that he will next hold discussions in Washington and "consultations with other partners."

"We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed," he said.

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