UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their eighth round of talks on Sunday night to reach an agreement that would allow the United States to reduce its troop levels in Afghanistan, the two sides said.
“We have concluded this round of talks that began on August 3,” US envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad wrote in a tweet. He said the discussions were “positive” and both sides focused on “technical details.”
A few days later in Doha, Khalilzad visited India, Germany and Norway. The head of the Taliban delegation Mullah Abdul Ghani Prader met for his part with a delegation from the Uzbek Foreign Ministry.
“I’m on the way back to Washington for consultations on the next stages,” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid wrote in a tweet: “The work was tiring and effective. Both sides agreed to consult with their leadership on the next steps.”
Despite much speculation in Kabul, neither the United States nor the Taliban has said whether an agreement will be announced in the coming days.
On Sunday, Khalilzad wrote on Twitter, “I hope this is the last holiday in Afghanistan,” in reference to Eid al-Adha.
Mujahid said Sunday that talks were continuing, noting that Taliban insurgents were seeking “precise wording before announcing all the articles of the agreement in the light of their Islamic and national interests.”
Many Afghans had hoped that a ceasefire would be announced on Eid al-Adha, but that did not happen. But the country has been relatively calm.
The United States and the Taliban began direct negotiations a year ago. Washington wants to reduce its forces in Afghanistan, where 14,000 US troops are deployed.
In particular, the United States is seeking to end the longest war in its history, which began in 2001, during which Washington spent more than $ 1 trillion, while President Donald Trump said he wanted to withdraw US troops from this country.
In return, the Taliban pledge security guarantees, including not allowing Islamic militants to take refuge in Afghanistan.
Any possible agreement between the United States and the Taliban will not end the war in Afghanistan because the insurgents still have to strike a deal with the Kabul government.
On Monday, the Afghan intelligence service announced that 35 Taliban prisoners would be released as a “goodwill gesture.”
“The release of these prisoners is a clear indication of the government’s strong desire for peace and an end to the war,” he said in a statement.
The Taliban and Afghan security forces periodically release prisoners from the other side.
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