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US-Taliban Peace Talks Enter in Second Day, Qatar

The US and the Taliban will seek to thrash out elements of a deal to bring a close to Afghanistan’s 18-year conflict in the second day of renewed talks in Doha on Sunday.

The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops and turn the page on its longest-ever war.

But it would first seek assurances from the insurgents that they would renounce Al-Qaeda and stop other militants like the Islamic State group using the country as a haven.

The talks, now in their eighth round, began on Saturday and were due to resume Sunday morning after pausing overnight, US and Taliban sources stated.

A Taliban source also said efforts were underway to organise a direct meeting between US envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar, who heads the movement’s political wing.

peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said withdrawal from Afghanistan will be condition-based

“We are pursuing  a peace agreement not a withdrawal agreement; a peace agreement that enables withdrawal. Our presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based, and any withdrawal will be conditions-based”, Khalilzad tweeted

He added that both they and the Taliban wanted to conclude an agreement.

The United Nations has said that civilian casualty rates across Afghanistan matched record levels last month, following a dip earlier in the year

Last month, the U.S. and Taliban announced a pause in consultations with higher leaders and said both sides needed to consult their top leadership on some matters.

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