A new round of negotiations between the United States and the Taliban resumed in Doha on Saturday, amid expectations that more progress would be made in the current round, which was described as crucial, while US President Donald Trump was expected to announce his intention to reduce the number of his troops in Afghanistan.
Senior officials familiar with the talks said a peace deal could be expected at the end of the current round, possibly before August 13, noting that the expected agreement would lead to the withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-ravaged country.
"We are seeking a peace agreement and not an agreement to withdraw," said US envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who arrived in Doha on Friday evening, adding that the Taliban had indicated they might conclude an agreement and "we are ready for a good agreement."
Trump has met with Doha by announcing that the United States plans to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan after negotiations have made progress in peace talks with the Taliban, but warned at the same time that he has the ability to wipe out a large part of Afghanistan in a matter of days, .
He said US troops deployed for nearly two decades "can win in Afghanistan in two, three or four, but I do not look forward to killing 10 million people."
Trump made similar statements last month about 10 million dead, but this time he made clear that it would not include nuclear weapons. "I'm talking about conventional weapons," he said.
Al-Jazeera correspondent in Washington Nasser al-Husseini said that the withdrawal that Trump is talking about is not a complete draw for the troops, and that the talk is about keeping a small American force on Afghan territory for surveillance and not intervention.
He added that Washington has a set of conditions for the withdrawal of the bulk of its forces, including achieving a minimum of peace in the country, which has been exhausted by the decades-long war and the start of direct negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, as well as the abandonment of the Taliban formally and effectively the organizations that classify terrorism Such as rule and state regulation.
Two sources familiar with the talks told Reuters an agreement was expected on the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for security guarantees provided by the Taliban before Aug. 13.
"The question of the withdrawal of troops has prolonged the peace talks and delayed the agreement," a senior Taliban commander in Afghanistan told Reuters.
"We will not allow a permanent presence of US troops in Afghanistan after signing a peace agreement," he said.
He also said the movement would provide full assurance that no armed foreign group would be allowed to use Afghanistan to launch attacks on the United States and its allies.
The movement's leaders have repeatedly stressed that they will not stop firing or hold talks with the Afghan government and members of civil society until the United States announces a plan for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
Afghanistan currently has about 20,000 foreign troops, most of them Americans, as part of a US-led NATO mission to train and assist Afghan forces and provide advice.
The Taliban now control more areas than ever since the United States overthrew the government in 2001.