The latest round of talks between the Taliban and the United States on a deal to withdraw thousands of US troops from Afghanistan has ended and now both sides will consult with their leadership on the next steps, a Taliban spokesman said on Monday.
The eighth round of talks in Qatar concluded after midnight and was “long and useful,” Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. He made no statements on the outcome of the talks.
Last week, another Taliban spokesman had said a deal was expected to follow this round as both sides seek an end to the nearly 18-year war, America’s longest conflict.
An agreement if reached is expected to include Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would not be a base for other extremist groups in the future. However, both the militant Islamic State (IS) group’s affiliate and al-Qaida remain active in the country. The Taliban stage near-daily attacks across Afghanistan, mainly targeting Afghan forces and government officials but also killing many civilians.
The deal also could include a cease-fire and stipulate that the Taliban would negotiate with Afghan representatives, though the insurgent group has so far refused to negotiate with Kabul representatives, dismissing the Afghan government as a US puppet.
There was no immediate comment on Monday from US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who on Sunday tweeted: “I hope this is the last Eid where #Afghanistan is at war.”