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Week-Long US-Taliban Talks End Without Breakthrough


This photo released by Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows Qatari, U.S. and Taliban officials holding talks at an undisclosed location, in Doha, Feb. 25, 2019.

The Taliban and the United States on Thursday concluded weeklong negotiations in Qatar but reported no significant progress on peace efforts in Afghanistan.

The talks focused on two issues: U.S. troop withdrawal from the country in return for Taliban assurances that they will not allow terrorists to use Afghan soil to attack other countries, said a spokesman for the insurgent group.

Suhail Shaheen described what he said was the sixth round of talks as "positive and constructive." He said "some progress" was made on a preliminary agreement the two sides had reached in their last meeting in early March, covering the issues.

"Both sides listened to each other with care and patience," he noted. Shaheen said Taliban and American negotiating teams would consult with their respective leaders and "discuss the remaining points in the next round of talks." He did not elaborate.

Special reconciliation envoy Zalmay Khalilzad led the U.S. team. "We are getting into the nitty-gritty. The devil is always in the details," he tweeted after Thursday's meeting. The talks made steady but slow progress on aspects of the framework for ending the Afghan war, Khalilzad noted.

'More, faster progress'

"However, the current pace of talks isn't sufficient when so much conflict rages and innocent people die. We need more and faster progress. Our proposal for all sides to reduce violence also remains on the table," Khalilzad said.

The Afghan-born chief American negotiator has said a final agreement with the Taliban would be linked to a comprehensive cease-fire and insurgent participation in an intra-Afghan dialogue for permanently ending hostilities.

But the Taliban want Washington to agree to and announce a troop withdrawal plan before they open discussions on other issues related to bringing sustainable peace to Afghanistan.

The insurgent group continues to launch deadly attacks in the country, including Wednesday's car-bomb-and-gun raid against a U.S.-funded nongovernmental organization in the Afghan capital, Kabul. That attack killed nine people and injured more than 20 others.