The US Department of State said Tuesday that the Taliban had agreed that peace would require agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue and a ceasefire.
“The Taliban have agreed that peace will require both sides to fully address four core issues, and they are counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive cease-fire”, State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said Tuesday.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said in a separate statement earlier on Tuesday that Taliban and Afghan officials had agreed “in draft” during the latest round of peace talks on counter-terrorism assurances and a timeline for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Khalilzad explained that Taliban and Afghan officials would begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and a comprehensive ceasefire as soon as the draft agreement on the US withdrawal timeline and counter-terrorism measures is finalized.
Khalilzad also said he will now head to the United States for discussions with US officials and consultations with partners regarding the latest developments in the Afghan-Taliban peace talks.
Meanwhile, representatives of Taliban will resume negotiations with the United States in Qatar in late March, a source from the Afghan delegation told Sputnik earlier.
The previous round of the US-Taliban talks in January resulted in a framework for a future agreement under which the Islamic radical movement is ready to guarantee it will not harbor al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan, in return for the US ending its military presence in the country.
The Taliban has been one of the major forces opposing the Afghan government in the latter’s long-standing confrontation with various rebel and terror groups.
In 1996, the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan, and the United States invaded the country in 2001 to fight the al-Qaeda terror group in retaliation for the 11 September, 2001, terrorist attacks on US soil.
The US troops eventually overthrew the Taliban, saying that the country had become a safe haven for al-Qaeda while the group was in power. While most US troops had left Afghanistan by the end of 2014, US forces continues to be present on the ground to support Afghan forces in combating terrorism.