US-Taliban talks end with no deal

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Taliban walk as they celebrate ceasefire in Ghanikhel district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan June 16, 2018. REUTERS/Parwiz

DOHA (Reuters) – US and Taliban negotiators wrapped up their longest round of consecutive peace talks on Tuesday with progress made but no agreement on when foreign troops might withdraw, officials from both sides said.

The 16 days of talks, in which the United States also sought assurances that the Taliban would not allow militant groups to use Afghanistan to stage attacks, are expected to resume in late March.

The negotiations in Qatar included the Taliban’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and a US team led by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Mr Khalilzad, the Afghan-born US diplomat, said the sides made progress on discussions about counter-terrorism assurances and a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“The conditions for peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” Mr Khalilzad said on Twitter.

The Taliban have held multiple rounds of peace talks with the American team led by Mr Khalilzad but have so far rejected the offer to discuss the issue with the Afghan government.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the sides made progress on the issues of withdrawing foreign forces and preventing future attacks on other countries from Afghanistan.

But, in a statement, he stressed that no agreement was reached on a ceasefire or talks with the Afghan government.

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