Left to right: Taliban officials Amir Khan Mutaqi, Abdul Salam Hanafi and Abbas Stanikzai are shown on July 7 attending the opening of the so-called Intra-Afghan Dialogue in the Qatari capital Doha. (Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images)

NATO Chief: Afghanistan Peace Deal Closer ‘Than Ever Before’

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday that peace in Afghanistan was closer “than ever before,” as talks between the United States and the Taliban continued in Doha, Qatar. “We now see a real chance for peace in Afghanistan,” Stoltenberg told reporters while visiting New Zealand. The latest round of US-Taliban peace talks – described by Washington’s chief negotiator as the “most crucial” phase of the negotiations – began on Saturday. American officials reportedly believe a peace accord could be forged before August 13 – one that would see foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees by the Taliban. The US invaded Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in order to oust the Taliban, which had harbored Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking Al-Qa’ida members. Washington thereafter installed a new government and has since been assisting Kabul’s security forces in battling insurgents, foremost the Taliban but also groups such as the Islamic State. The Taliban currently controls more territory than at any point since shortly after the US military intervention.

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