US, Taliban to open Doha talks in fresh bid to end war

A fresh round of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban is to begin in Qatar, just days after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is hoping for an Afghan peace agreement before September 1.

Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, tells The Associated Press talks with U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will begin early Saturday morning.

The focus of the talks will be on the withdrawal of U.S. troops and Taliban guarantees to prevent Afghanistan from again hosting militants who can stage global attacks.

The latest round of talks comes amid heightened expectations that followed Pompeo’s optimistic time frame for a pact to end Afghanistan’s nearly 18-year war and America’s longest-running military engagement.