Taliban talks: Draft framework for Afghanistan peace 'agreed'

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In comments given to the New York Times and confirmed to CNN by the US Embassy in Kabul, Zalmay Khalilzad said the framework for peace would see the insurgent group vow to prevent the country from being used as a hub for terrorism in return for a US military withdrawal.

The agreement would guarantee the Taliban commit to preventing Afghan territory from being used "as a platform for global terrorist groups or individuals", the envoy said.

Afghans are wary of peace talks with Taliban militants, even as the country's president expressed hope that USA -led negotiations could successfully end the long-running civil war.

The Taliban must also agree to a cease-fire and direct talks with the Afghan government, two concessions the Taliban has long resisted.

"Our commitment is to provide peace and prevent any possible disaster", Ghani, who met with the United States envoy late Sunday in Kabul, said in an address to the nation. "But there are values which are non-negotiable, for example national unity, national sovereignty, territorial integrity, a powerful and competent central government and basic rights of the citizens of the country".

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On Saturday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Doha talks "saw progress" on vital issues but added that "until the issue of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is agreed upon, progress in other issues is impossible".

Taliban fighters have been carrying out near-daily attacks on Afghan security forces.

This comes after the USA special envoy held talks with President Ashraf Ghani to brief him on progresses in the peace talks with the Taliban. US troops would leave Afghanistan in return for promises that Afghan territory not be used by terrorists, however hard that may be to fulfill. "It is time for Ghani to choose between elections or peace process", said a western diplomat based in Kabul.

US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad reported the progress after holding six days of talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar.

Ostensibly to find a way to bring the Taliban to peace negotiations with the government in Kabul to end the Afghan conflict.

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During his address, Ghani noted that USA and other foreign forces remain in the country because they are still needed.

Li added that the United States might not pull out all its troops from Afghanistan, and could instead keep a limited military presence there, such as a drone fleet, to help stabilise the volatile situation.

Haroun Mir, an analyst in Kabul, said Afghans are anxiously waiting for the insurgents to clarify their demands in the next round of talks, especially their willingness to talk to a broad array of Afghan leaders but not to the Ghani government directly. "So to think they would now stop and say, 'OK, we'll respect the constitution and seek legal changes, ' that isn't going to happen".

The peace plan is based on the United States taking the Taliban at its word-the same Taliban that, in October, attacked a meeting between Afghan officials and Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the commander of USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces in Afghanistan.

Until the interview, the U.S. envoy had only released a series of tweets about the talks - saying "significant progress" had been made but without providing details.

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In the New York Times interview, U.S. envoy Mr Khalilzad said the Taliban had pledged not to give terrorist groups safe haven - a key demand from Washington if it pulls out troops.

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