We offer this editorial with a great deal of skepticism.
There was a report on Monday, that the United States and the Taliban may agree to draft a peace framework.
There is a possibility that such a deal could pave the way for peace talks with the Afghanistan government, Washington’s main negotiator said.
The comments of special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to the New York Times, published on Monday, are the clearest signal yet from a U.S. official that talks between Washington and the Taliban are progressing, raising hopes of a breakthrough in the grinding 17-year conflict.
Khalilzad has been leading a months-long diplomatic push to convince the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government, but the group has steadfastly refused, dismissing authorities in Kabul as “puppets.”
The flurry of activity culminated in an unprecedented six consecutive days of talks in Qatar last week, with the U.S. and the Taliban both citing progress.
“We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” Khalilzad told the Times.
He told Afghan media that Washington and the Taliban “agreed to agreements in principle on a couple of very important issues,” and said Afghans must “seize the opportunity,” according to comments released by the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
Experts quickly hailed the development as a milestone, noting it indicated willingness on both sides to find a way out of the conflict.
Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan described the talks as “encouraging.”
However, there is still no accord on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal or a ceasefire — major issues on which previous attempts at negotiations have foundered.
On Saturday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that without a withdrawal timetable, progress on other issues is “impossible.”
Khalilzad confirmed the Taliban acceded on one major issue for the United States: safe havens.
The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals, he said.
He gave no further details, but the statement gave weight to reports last week, that the Taliban has agreed to oppose Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Afghanistan.
ISIL, however, is a growing and potent presence in Afghanistan, where it is fighting a fierce turf war with the Taliban in some areas.
Americans will have to wait and see if these talks can make real progress. After 17 years, everyone in the U.S. should hope that we can get our troops out of there.