Afghanistan talks agree 'roadmap to peace'

A landmark peace conference between the Taliban and influential Afghans, including government officials, has agreed a “roadmap for peace” that could hasten the end of the 18-year war.

A statement called for an end to civilian casualties and the protection of women’s rights within an “Islamic framework”.

The non-binding agreement comes as the US and Taliban continue to negotiate an American withdrawal.

The US toppled the Taliban in 2001.

A seventh round of talks between American negotiators and the insurgents is expected to resume later on Tuesday. They hope to reach an agreement that would see US troops pull out in return for a commitment that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for terrorism.

The Taliban is refusing to hold direct negotiations with the Afghan government until the US announces a timetable for the withdrawal.

But the two-day conference in Qatar, which saw senior Afghan officials attend in a personal capacity, is seen as having laid the ground for formal talks in the future.

“Afghans meeting with the Taliban was a big success,” US lead negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters on Monday.

“It’s not an agreement, it’s a foundation to start the discussion,” Mary Akrami, executive director of the Afghan Women’s Network and a delegate at the conference, told the AFP news agency. “The good part…

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