The United States has agreed to discuss the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in a direct meeting with Taliban representatives in Qatar, officials from the armed group said.
In a preliminary meeting in Doha on Friday, Taliban representatives and US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad discussed the Taliban’s conditions to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan, two top Taliban officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera.
“Six US delegates arrived in Doha to have a meeting with our (Taliban) leaders [and] agreed to discuss all issues, including the pullout of foreign troops,” one of the officials said.
“But, it was a preliminary meeting and all issues were discussed in general, not in detail,” he added, saying more talks were expected to take place in the near future.
Last year, US President Donald Trump increased the number of US forces in the country as part of a new strategy against the Taliban. There are now about 14,000 US soldiers in the country. The Taliban has previously said the presence of foreign troops was the biggest obstacle to peace in Afghanistan.
In addition to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban’s conditions include the lifting of sanctions on its leaders, the release of their fighters imprisoned in Afghanistan, and the establishment of an official political office.