U.S. to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal: Taliban officials

Despite the talks in Doha there has been no letup in the violence in Afghanistan

Despite the talks in Doha there has been no letup in the violence in Afghanistan

Despite reports in December past year that the United States was considering pulling out nearly half of its forces, a White House spokesman said that US President Donald Trump had not issued orders to withdraw the troops.

The US agreement pertaining to pulling out troops from the war-torn Afghanistan would likely to be announced today, the report had said.

The duration of the talks, described as "unprecedented" by analysts, has raised hopes of an imminent agreement that could pave the way to peace negotiations.

Despite the progress on a pact, violence is widely expected to continue, with the Taliban mounting daily attacks against the Afghan government and its security forces.

The Taliban says that they will finalise a timeline for a ceasefire in Afghanistan but will only open talks with Afghan representatives once the ceasefire is implemented.

- The ongoing US-Taliban meeting in Doha, which started on Monday, is the longest of such meetings.

However the USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are likely to call for an agreement in accordance with democratic principles, something the Taliban are unlikely to agree to, and it is unclear how far Ghani would be willing or able to go to accommodate them - or how Washington could bend the Taliban to their will without a military presence in Afghanistan.

In a major shake-up, the Afghan Taliban on Thursday appointed their former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the new head of their political office in Qatar. This meeting, however, has not been confirmed by the US.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson declined further comment. The Trump administration has also held back over a $1 billion (€880 million) in aid to Pakistan.

"This round of negotiations revolving around the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and other vital issues saw progress; but since issues are of critical nature and need comprehensive discussions therefore it was decided that talks about unsolved matters will resume in similar future meetings", he said.

"Hopefully, this will be a game-changer for the region", he said.

In December, reports emerged that the United States was planning to withdraw about 7000 troops - roughly half the remaining USA military presence in the country.

"There has been a progress", he said when asked about the trust level between Pakistan and the US. But Afghan media later reported that no statement was imminent and that the acting Afghan defense minister, Masoom Stanekzai, was flying to Qatar to discuss the state of the negotiations.

Both sides have remained tight-lipped about the latest talks.

If Washington exits before a peace deal is in place there are fears the already-plummeting morale of Afghan security forces will shatter and that they will break along ethnic lines, igniting a full-scale civil war or even usher in a new era of Taliban rule.

While the talks grind on in Qatar, fighting continued in Afghanistan.

Al Jazeera added that during the first two days, the talks focused on a roadmap for the withdrawal of foreign forces and a guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used for hostile acts against the United States and its allies, according to one of Taliban leaders.

President Trump's governing style focuses more on U.S. domestic politics than on the nation's global role.

The Taliban have staged a comeback in recent years and today hold sway over almost half the country.

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