101st Airborne Division Afghanistan US Troops
Afghanistan

US And Taliban Peace Talks Reach 'Agreement In Principle'

A peace deal would end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

101st Airborne Division Afghanistan US Troops

US soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan (Picture: US Department of Defense).

Negotiators for the US and Taliban insurgents have reached "agreements in principle" on key issues for a peace deal that would end 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

The senior US envoy made the announcement following six days of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar last week.

During the talks, Zalmay Khalilzad had urged the Islamic insurgent group to enter into direct negotiations with the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Mr Ghani on Monday assured Afghans that their rights will not be compromised in the name of peace with the Taliban.

The insurgents have been staging near-daily attacks against Afghan forces and now hold sway over nearly half of the country.

Afghan Security Forces
Afghan Security Forces following a Taliban attack (Picture: PA).

Mr Khalilzad said an agreement in principle was reached with the Taliban on the framework of a peace deal "which still has to be fleshed out".

It will see the insurgents commit to guaranteeing that Afghan territory is not used as a "platform for international terrorist groups or individuals".

He said the deal could lead to a full pullout of US troops in return for a ceasefire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government.

In his statement released by the US embassy, Mr Khalilzad said: "We made progress on vital issues in our discussions and agreed to agreements in principle on a couple of very important issues.

"There is a lot more work to be done before we can say we have succeeded in our efforts but I believe for the first time I can say that we have made significant progress."

Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan said he has been briefed on the talks and described them as encouraging, but he also told reporters his department has not been directed to prepare for a full withdrawal.

Speaking before a meeting at the Pentagon with Mr Shanahan, Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said any discussion about the withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan would be premature.

He said Mr Khalilzad had briefed Nato allies on the talks weeks ago.

"We are in Afghanistan to create the conditions for a peaceful negotiated solution," Mr Stoltenberg said.

"We will not stay longer than necessary, but we will not leave before we have a situation that enables us to leave or reduce the number of troops without jeopardising the main goal of our presence, and that is to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists once again."