UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Talks with the Americans in Doha are close to a deal on the fifth day of meetings, a senior Taliban official said Tuesday, while US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautiously expressed hope.
“We have made progress on this round and we are finalizing the remaining points,” Hamas spokesman Suhail Shaheen told reporters outside the venue.
Shaheen expected to reach an agreement “when the remaining points are completed.”
Speaking to Indianapolis veterans, Pompeo said he could not predict how the talks would end, but President Donald Trump was “committed to making sure that we succeed.”
“His clear guidance to me and my military colleagues is that we want to bring our young people home as soon as possible and in large numbers, and we want to make sure that terrorism will not strike the United States again.”
“So I think we can and will work to achieve these goals, and we will honor your work and your sacrifice in this battle,” Pompeo said.
The US special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Monday responded to reports that any agreement would not include fighting between insurgents and the Afghan government, stressing in a tweet, “We will defend Afghan forces now and after any agreement with the Taliban.”
According to Khalilzad, both sides agree that “the future of Afghanistan is determined by internal Afghan negotiations.”
On Tuesday, Shaheen stressed that “all internal issues will be discussed through Afghan negotiations upon the completion of this agreement and presented to the media.”
The Taliban announced earlier that any agreement reached will be presented to the media and representatives of neighboring countries 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 fundamental demand of the Taliban, which in return will pledge not to allow the use of territory controlled by “terrorist” organizations.
It is also expected to provide for a ceasefire between insurgents and Americans or at least “reduce violence.”
This will be a historic agreement 18 years after the US invasion of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban regime in the aftermath 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.
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