Code: 720296 A

Taliban officials said U.S. negotiators on Saturday agreed on a draft peace pact setting out the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan within 18 months, potentially ending the United States’ longest war.

The details of the draft were given to Reuters by Taliban sources at the end of six days of talks with U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar aimed at ending the war, more than 17 years since American-led forces invaded Afghanistan.

It stipulates that troops would leave within 18 months of the agreement being signed.

While no joint statement was issued, Khalilzad tweeted later that the talks had made “significant progress” and would resume shortly, adding that he planned to travel to Afghanistan to meet government officials.

“Meetings here (in Qatar) were more productive than they have been in the past. We have made significant progress on vital issues,” he wrote, adding that numerous issues still needed work.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and everything must include an intra-Afghan dialogue and comprehensive ceasefire,” he wrote in the tweets.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday wrote on Twitter that he had received “encouraging news” from Khalilzad about the talks.

“The U.S. is serious about pursuing peace, preventing #Afghanistan from continuing to be a space for international terrorism & bringing forces home,” Pompeo tweeted. He did not give a timetable for the potential withdrawal of U.S. forces.

A Taliban statement issued later also noted progress on troop withdrawal and other issues but said more negotiations and internal consultations were required.

“The policy of the Islamic Emirate during talks was very clear — until the issue of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is agreed upon, progress in other issues is impossible,” said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, using another name the group calls itself.

It was not clear whether the draft described by the Taliban sources was acceptable to both sides or when it could be completed and signed.

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Taliban Afghanistan
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