Foreign troops ‘to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal,’ Taliban officials say

Foreign troops 'to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal,' Taliban officials say

They said the deal included a ceasefire provision but they had yet to confirm a timeline and would only open talks with Afghan representatives once a truce was implemented.

Up until now, the Taliban has repeatedly rejected the Afghan government’s offer of holding talks, preferring instead to talk directly to the U.S. side, which it regards as its main enemy.

“In 18 months, if the foreign forces are withdrawn and ceasefire is implemented then other aspects of the peace process can be put into action,” a Taliban source said, quoting from a portion of the draft.

More talks on the draft are expected in February, again in the Qatari capital Doha, the Taliban sources said.

They expect their side to be led by new political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the movement’s co-founder and a former military commander who was released from prison in Pakistan last year.

While they said his appointment had boosted momentum for a deal, it was unclear if he joined the talks.

Taliban officials believe the U.S. was keen to get Baradar – who was captured in a joint Pakistani-U.S. intelligence raid in 2010 – to the table so they could be sure of speaking to the movement’s most powerful figures.

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