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Taliban, US Set to Hold Crucial Round of Afghan Peace Talks

The United States and the Taliban are scheduled to hold a crucial round of negotiations in Qatar early this week amid high expectations of a breakthrough in nearly a year-long process toward ending the war in Afghanistan. This would be the seventh round of talks hosted by the Qatari capital of Doha, where the insurgent group maintains an informal political office. The U.S. team is being led by Afghan-born American reconciliation envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad. U.S. and Taliban negotiators were expected to conclude an agreement covering the two issues in their last meeting in May, but the discussions stalled over the Taliban's refusal to cease hostilities and participate in an intra-Afghan peace dialogue until Washington announced a troop drawdown timetable.A Taliban spokesman has dismissed reported assertions of a stalemate in the dialogue in the wake of U.S. insistence that the final agreement must cover a cease-fire and the insurgent group's engagement in intra-Afghan talks, involving the Kabul government. "I don't see the dialogue is deadlocked. It is progressing, but steadily or gradually," Suhail Shaheen, who speaks for the insurgent negotiating team, told VOA ahead of the upcoming talks. 

 

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