The United States and representatives of the Taliban started a fresh round of peace talks in Qatar on Saturday as clashes in Afghanistan continued.
Taliban forces killed at least 25 government-affiliated militiamen in the northern province of Baghlan and injured 12 in Nahrin district.
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Direct negotiations between US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban began in 2018. The latest round is focused on the details of a Taliban pledge not to host terrorists in the country and a timetable on a withdrawal of US troops.
Khalilzad said “steady, but slow progress” had been made in the last round of talks in May.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during to a visit to the Afghan capital Kabul on Tuesday that he hoped both sides would agree on a peace deal by September 1.
The Taliban has refused to agree to a cease-fire until US troops have withdrawn from the country. They have also refused meeting any representatives of the US-backed central government during the peace talks.
The Afghan war began shortly after the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks, which Al-Qaida leader Osama bin-Laden had organized from Afghanistan.
After 18 years of conflict, the US-backed government controls only half of the country’s territory.