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Resumption of negotiations between US and Taliban in Doha

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — The United States and the Taliban resumed talks Saturday in Doha, a US source said, seeking a deal to allow the withdrawal of US troops deployed in Afghanistan after 18 years of conflict.

“Negotiations began in the afternoon,” said a US source familiar with the talks, which began Thursday.

Negotiations between the Americans and Taliban insurgents were to continue on Friday, but Taliban spokesman Suhail Shahin said the two sides had decided to postpone them until Saturday, citing “other commitments.”

“We have made progress (Thursday) and we are now discussing the implementation mechanism and some technical points,” he told AFP.

“The agreement will be concluded when we agree on these points.”

He added that the agreement will be presented to the media and representatives of neighboring countries of Afghanistan, in addition to China, Russia and the United Nations.

The agreement is supposed to provide for the withdrawal of 13,000 US troops from Afghanistan with a timetable. This is a basic demand of the Taliban, which in return will pledge not to allow the use of territory controlled by the “terrorist” organizations.

The agreement is also expected to provide for a ceasefire between insurgents and the Americans or at least “a reduction in violence.”

This would be a historic agreement 18 years after the US invasion of Afghanistan to oust the Taliban from power in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Washington hopes to reach a peace deal with the Taliban by September 1, ahead of Afghan elections scheduled for the same month and the US presidential election in 2020.

The Taliban confirmed on Saturday that they had killed seven US military personnel in an attack on a convoy near Bagram air base north of Kabul.

A spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, Colonel Sonny Leggett, said the attack damaged some shops but denied there were casualties among US or coalition forces.

“Rather than assume their responsibilities and apologize for the damage they are inflicting on innocent Afghans and their shops, the Taliban are lying about the attack,” he told AFP.

Two US soldiers were killed Wednesday by small arms fire in the northern state of Faryab, the Pentagon said.

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