US achieves breakthrough in Afghan peace talks, calls it 'major milestone'

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Washington: The US on Wednesday welcomed the breakthrough in peace talks between the negotiators from the Afghan government and the Taliban, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo describing it as a "major milestone".

The Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.

The agreement comes months after tha landmark intra-Afghan peace talks began in Doha. It lays out the way forward for further discussions and will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues.

"This agreement is a major milestone in the Afghanistan Peace Negotiations that have been underway since September 12, 2020, Pompeo said.

Noting that the agreement codifies the rules and procedures the two sides have been negotiating since the start of talks, he said that the teams made a number of important decisions that will guide their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.

Congratulating both sides on their perseverance and willingness to find common ground, Pompeo said the achievement demonstrates that the Afghan government and Taliban were serious, able to overcome differences, and ready to deal with difficult issues.

"What has been achieved provides hope they will succeed in reaching a political settlement to this more than forty-year-old conflict. The United States thanks Qatar for its role as host and facilitator of the talks," he said.

"Rapid progress on a political roadmap and a ceasefire is what the people of Afghanistan want more than anything else, Pompeo said.

He said the US, along with the most of the international community, will continue to support the peace process in pursuit of this goal.

"As negotiations on a political roadmap and permanent ceasefire begin, we will also work hard with all sides in pursuit of a serious reduction of violence and ceasefire," Pompeo said.

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