"There will need to be clear, hard assurances that any troop withdrawals take place only after the Taliban has begun talks with the Afghan government", Kugelman continued.
The sides are working on a ceasefire that would lead to a sequenced agreement for dialogue, initially between the U.S. and Taliban and then between the Taliban and Afghan government, a source with knowledge of the talks told the CNN last week. Ghani has warned that any discussions of a future interim government or other power-sharing agreement must only be discussed in direct talks between Afghan and Taliban representatives.
Khalilzad, who held "productive" talks with the Taliban representatives in Qatar's capital Doha last week, visited Kabul and briefed President Ghani on his six-day consecutive talks with the hardliner Taliban outfit on Sunday.
According to the Associated Press, the president added, "There are values that are not disputable, such as national unity, national sovereignty and territorial integrity". There are an additional 8,000 troops from 38 other countries participating in the train-and-advise mission to help Afghan security forces in their fight against the Taliban and the Islamic State. Although the Taliban was not directly involved in the hijacking plot that resulted in attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, its leaders had provided aid and shelter to al-Qaida, including Osama bin Laden. ABC News has previously reported that the Trump administration plans to withdraw as many as 7,000 of the 14,000 us troops in Afghanistan. "It is time for Ghani to choose between elections or peace process", said a western diplomat based in Kabul.
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Another round of peace talks between the Taliban in Afghanistan and the United States has been tentatively set for February 25. No Afghan wants foreign troops to remain in their country indefinitely.
Six days of talks ended in Qatar on Saturday with key parts of a draft pact mapped out, including an 18-month timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops after the completion of a deal, according to Taliban officials. Several young men said they would resist any Taliban pressure; one vividly remembered the Taliban religious police whipping his older brother for not wearing a turban.
"I believe for the first time I can say that we have made significant progress...."
The US has the largest contingent, roughly 14,000 troops.
Afghan authorities have warned that any deal between the United States and the Taliban would require Kabul's endorsement. "They want to rule it and they will allow al-Qaida safe haven because they have fought together for 17 years, and they have inter-marriages, they are very close", Morrell said.
Monday's statement quotes Khalilzad as saying he held talks about a cease-fire with the Taliban but that there was no progress yet on that issue.
Afghan security forces are already taking staggering losses, with 45,000 killed since late 2014, and morale is low.