"Let's see what happens this time". A Taliban source with knowledge of the negotiations in Qatar said the eighth round of talks that concluded earlier this month had broken down over disagreements around a cease-fire declaration from the Taliban, a major U.S. demand.
"The talks between the U.S. and the Taliban would have not been impossible without the initiative of the Afghan government. I must say we resolved most of the major issues and hurdles in the talks and there should be no problem in the ongoing session", said the Taliban leader. "In this round, they will again discuss the issue in detail", said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander. Abdul Hakim Mujahid, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council, told Arab News that the Taliban and the United States were closer than ever to a deal but the USA desire to keep intelligence agents in Afghanistan was a major hurdle.
But thorny issues remain unresolved, including power-sharing with the Taliban, the role of regional powers including Pakistan and India, and the fate of Afghanistan's incumbent administration. "Americans want to keep CIA-trained operatives who are known for repressive operations and Taliban do not want them".
Pleading anonymity, a member of the Taliban negotiating team in Qatar said that all their senior leaders and members of the peace council held lengthy sessions before start of the meeting with the U.S. delegation.
Taliban and USA negotiators have held eight rounds of talks since October but have failed to finalize an agreement.
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The US hopes that it can reach a deal with the Taliban before 1 September.
The Taliban have claimed responsibility for Wednesday's killing of two USA soldiers in northern Afghanistan. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.
US President Donald Trump, a vocal critic of the Afghan war before he was elected in 2016, said US forces have been stuck there acting like a "police force".
Washington and the Taliban have held several rounds of talks in the past year on issues including a United States troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan negotiations and Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be a launch pad for global terrorist attacks.
According to the Washington Post, the latest draft would withdraw 5,000 US troops in exchange for a Taliban pledge to cut ties with Al-Qaeda.