The agreement comes after months of talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, encouraged by the United States despite continued violence. The agreement to advance the substantive negotiations was welcomed by the United Nations, representatives of the countries in Kabul, Pakistan`s Afghan neighbour and Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo, who called the announcements by the Afghan government and the Taliban an “important milestone” on Wednesday. Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban said they had reached a tentative agreement to advance peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war. The agreement between the United States and the Taliban promised that “up to 5,000” Taliban detainees would be released by the Afghan government before the negotiations, in exchange for 1,000 members of the security forces held by the militants. Also saturday, a senior Afghan official said the Afghan government and the Taliban were “very close” to breaking a deadlock in peace talks, but said the U.S. military presence in the country remained necessary. Discussions began on 12 September in Doha, but questions were quickly asked about agenda thinking, fundamental framework discussions and religious interpretations. Negotiators will also try to reach some kind of agreement on the country`s political future. In a statement on Wednesday, Pakistan`s foreign ministry welcomed the agreement and said it was “another important step forward.” The agreement set a tentative timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, preventing the Taliban from using international jihadist groups such as Al Qaeda to attack the United States or its allies.
The recent agreement, amid rising tensions, appears to be the result of efforts in informal talks between the two sides late in the evening, said Andrew Watkins, senior Afghanistan analyst at the International Crisis Group. “The agreement reflects a common determination by the parties to reach a negotiated solution. This is an important development that contributes to the success of the internal negotiations that we all hope for,” he said. The annexes to the agreement between the United States and the Taliban, which has never been published, should limit the fighting. According to a well-placed source, the Taliban were allowed to continue their operations in rural areas, but not in major cities. Biden also supports ending the war in Afghanistan on a rare point in the deal, though analysts say it won`t be so tied to a quick timetable. Neither side specified when the more substantial negotiations would begin or provided further details. U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, the architect of the peace process, however, tweeted that the two sides “codify a tripartite agreement that codifies the rules and procedures governing their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.” Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were scheduled to begin in March, after the signing of a pioneering agreement by the United States and the group on February 29 in Qatar, the Taliban`s diplomatic base. Wednesday`s agreement sets the way for further talks, but it is seen as a breakthrough because it allows negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a ceasefire. Last month, a last-minute agreement between the Taliban and government negotiators was foiled after the Taliban shook the document`s preamble because it specifically mentioned the Afghan government.
U.S. Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said the two sides had agreed on a “tripartite agreement that codifies the rules and procedures of their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.” The four-part agreement between the United States and the Taliban has forced the United States to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan, which it is doing.