Germany has flown a group of Afghan people back to Kabul after their asylum applications were rejected. Critics maintain Afghanistan remains unsafe and say the deportations will put lives at risk.
Experts say the first direct talks between the Taliban and Afghan officials are crucial because the Islamists had previously refused to engage with Kabul. The US has hailed substantive progress on all parts of a deal.
The Taliban and Afghan officials have agreed on a "promise to reduce violence," Germany's envoy says. Hosted by Qatar, the German-brokered talks could also spark progress in negotiations between the US and the Taliban.
Rival Afghan factions are set to meet in Doha on Sunday in an attempt to make headway in the country's long-stalled political deadlock. Qatar and Germany are brokering the talks, but expectations are low.
Representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban reached an agreement on a roadmap to end nearly 18 years of war. But much more difficult work lies ahead to achieve permanent peace, experts say.
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