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Taliban: Work on agreement with US complete (Lead)

Tuesday - August 13, 2019 5:58 pm , Category : WORLD
Kabul, Aug 13 (IANS) The Taliban on Tuesday said that work on the agreement with the US to seek a way out of nearly two decades of conflict in Afghanistan is complete, although it added that the sides would meet after final consultations and the agreement will be signed in the presence of international guarantors.
"Work on agreement (has been) completed," Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told Efe news, a day after the eighth round of peace negotiations between the US and the Taliban concluded in Doha, Qatar.
However, he added that "there will be another meeting" between the two sides after final consultations.
"Signing of the agreement will be taking place later in the presence of (international) guarantors," Mujahid said, without giving any further details.
The spokesperson on Monday had tweeted about the end of the eighth round of negotiations after 10 days of "tedious and effective" work, although he did not say anything about the finalization of the agreement.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad also tweeted on Monday, confirming the conclusion of this round of negotiations and said: "I am on my way back to DC to consult on next steps."
The Taliban want an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign troops and the US seeks guarantees that the country does not become a refuge for terrorists.
According to a report on Monday by American magazine Newsweek citing Pentagon sources, US troops on Afghan soil have received orders to draw back their operations against the Taliban and to stop assisting the Afghan military as Washington proposes to cut its troops to 6,000.
However, in response to the report, the commander of NATO's Resolute Support Mission and US Forces, General Scott Miller, in a statement denied having received any of the orders that appear in what he said is an "inaccurate and speculative" article.
"We have no such orders and have made no such changes," Miller said.
It is expected that an agreement with Washington would pave the way for direct talks between the Taliban, the government and Afghan leaders.
In July, some 60 Afghans - many of them government members - and 17 Taliban members took part in the seventh round of negotiations in Qatar.
The Afghan government announced a 15-member team to directly negotiate a peace agreement, a process that insurgents say will not begin until they first reach an agreement with the US on the withdrawal of international troops.

--IANS soni/