Speed Reads


U.S. negotiator says America and the Taliban have reached a preliminary peace deal framework

On Monday, the chief U.S. negotiator in peace talks with the Afghan Taliban told The New York Times that the two sides had agreed in principal to the framework of a peace deal that includes American troops leaving Afghanistan in return for a Taliban guarantee that its territory won't be used to harbor terrorist groups. "We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement," U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said. He returned to Kabul from peace talks in Qatar on Sunday to brief the Afghan government, which was not party to the talks. Taliban representatives also returned to discuss terms with their group's leadership.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appeared a little apprehensive about the talks, especially since his government wasn't party to them. "We want peace quickly, we want it soon, but we want it with prudence," Ghani said in an address to the nation. "Prudence is important so we do not repeat past mistakes." Under the framework deal, U.S. troops would leave only after the Taliban agreed to prevent Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups from using Afghan territory as a base, enter peace talks with the Afghan government, and agree to a long-term ceasefire during those talks, Khalilzad said. The Taliban had resisted those last two points.

The agreement could fall apart, but it is the furthest that peace talks have progressed after nine years of stop-and-start negotiations and nearly 20 years of U.S.-led NATO military presence in Afghanistan.