US and Taliban negotiators have agreed on a draft framework for a peace deal seeking to put an end to the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan, Washington’s top negotiator has said.
US negotiators held six days of talks with the Taliban in Qatar last week.
The Afghan president has made a new call for direct talks with the Islamist group, but they have so far refused, dismissing the government as “puppets”.
The group ruled the country from 1996-2001 and remain a top insurgent force.
Their rule ended when the US invaded Afghanistan after al-Qaeda – which had used the country as a base – carried out the 9/11 attacks in the US.
Analysts say it could be years before a substantive peace deal is reached.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, was in Kabul to brief the Afghan government about the talks.
“We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” he told The New York Times in an interview, adding that as part of the proposed deal the Taliban would vow to prevent Afghanistan being used as a hub for terrorism.
The Trump administration’s strategy has been to put pressure on the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.
It is exploring a full withdrawal of US troops – in return for a ceasefire…