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Khalilzad: US, Taliban at ‘Threshold of Agreement’

Zalmay Khalilzad, chief United States negotiator in talks with the Taliban, says the negotiations, ostensibly aimed at a US withdrawal from Afghanistan and an end to attacks by the Islamic extremist group, could be nearing success. “We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country,” he tweeted on Sunday. Having just wrapped up the ninth session of talks in Doha, the capital of Qatar, the diplomat said he would travel to Kabul later in the day for consultations with the US-backed government of President Ashraf Ghani. The Reuters news agency quoted a Taliban official it described as “privy to the talks” as saying: “We will now discuss these developments with our own leadership….” The talks have been going on despite a number of terrorist attacks claimed by the Islamists. On Saturday, Taliban personnel reportedly took control of neighborhoods of Kunduz, a city in northern Afghanistan the group has long fought for, before being driven out by government forces attacking on the ground and from the air.