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US-Taliban talks in Qatar end with agreement on troops’ withdrawal

PESHAWAR: Some progress has been made in the ongoing talks between Taliban negotiators and the United States officials meeting in Qatar on Saturday.

Sources said that both the sides finalised clauses to be included in a draft agreement to end the 17-year-old Afghan war.

According to reports, the clauses also include a clause regarding withdrawal of foreign forces from the country in 18 months after signing of the deal.

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is heading to Afghan capital Kabul to brief President Ashraf Ghani after the end of the six-day talks.

It is unclear whether a joint statement will be issued, or whether the provisions have been fully accepted by the US side.

The reports quoting Taliban sources said the group offered assurances that Afghanistan will not be allowed to be used by al-Qaeda and Daesh militants to attack the United States and its allies – a key early demand of Washington.

The Taliban says that they will finalize a timeline for a ceasefire in Afghanistan but will only open talks with Afghan representatives once the ceasefire is implemented.

Other clauses include a deal over the exchange and release of prisoners from the warring sides, the removal of an international travel ban on several Taliban leaders by the United States and the prospect of an interim Afghan government after the ceasefire is struck, the Taliban sources said.