US, Taliban agree to end 17-year Afghanistan conflict: report

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Afghan security force members take part in a military operation in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, eastern Afghanistan, Dec. 24, 2018. Xinhua

DOHA (NNN-QNA) – The United States and Taliban negotiators have agreed to put an end to the 17-year Afghanistan war.

Al Jazeera news channel, quoting sources, reported that the agreement included that the Taliban fighters will not be allowed to target Pakistan, via Afghanistan soil.

The US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, headed to Afghanistan, to brief Afghan President, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, on the outcome of the talks, after a six-day discussion.

The details of the draft which were given by Taliban sources at the end of six days of talks with Mr Khalilzad in Qatar, stipulated that troops would leave within 18 months of the agreement being signed.

The Taliban sources said other clauses in the draft include an agreement over the exchange and release of prisoners, the removal of an international travel ban on several Taliban leaders by Washington and the prospect of an interim Afghan government after the ceasefire is struck.

It was not clear whether the draft described by the Taliban sources was acceptable to both sides or when it could be completed and signed.

According to the sources, the hard-line Islamic group gave assurances that Afghanistan will not be allowed to be used by al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants to attack the United States and its allies – a key early demand of Washington.

They said the deal included a ceasefire provision but they had yet to confirm a timeline and would only open talks with Afghan representatives once a truce was implemented.

The Taliban sources also confirmed provisions in the draft that have broader implications for Afghanistan’s ties with its neighbours, particularly Pakistan, India and China.

They said the deal included provisions that separatist militants from Balochistan, a resource-rich southwestern Pakistani province, will not be allowed to use Afghan soil to target Pakistan.

While no joint statement was issued, Mr Khalilzad tweeted that the meetings in Qatar were more productive than they have been in the past.

A Taliban statement issued later also noted progress on troop withdrawal and other issues but said more negotiations and internal consultations were required.

More talks on the draft are expected in February, again in the Qatari capital Doha, the Taliban sources said.

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