The US and the Taliban have made substantial headway in peace talks, representatives from both sides have said. President Donald Trump has been eager to end the 17-year US conflict in Afghanistan, America's longest war.
US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said Saturday that "significant progress" had been made after six days of talks with Taliban representatives in Qatar.
"Will build on the momentum and resume talks shortly. We have a number of issues left to work out," the Afghan-born US diplomat wrote on Twitter.
"Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, and 'everything' must include an intra-Afghan dialogue and comprehensive ceasefire," he said, adding that he would next head to Afghanistan for consultations.
Read more: Why a US-Taliban agreement is likely
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote on Twitter that he had received "encouraging news" from Khalilzad.
"The US is serious about pursuing peace, preventing Afghanistan from continuing to be a space for international terrorism and bringing forces home," he said.
There were no official details or joint statement issued about the talks from either the United States or the Taliban.
In a statement, the Taliban said there was "progress" during negotiations but that there was no agreement on a ceasefire or talks with the Afghan government.
"The policy of the Islamic Emirate during talks was very clear — until the issue of withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is agreed upon, progress in other issues is impossible," said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, using another name for the group.
"Since issues are of critical nature and need comprehensive discussions, therefore it was decided that talks about unresolved matters will resume in similar future meetings," he added.
US President Donald Trump has said he wants to end America's longest war and has signaled that he may pull out half of the 14,000 US troops in the country supporting Afghan forces.
Among the ideas reportedly floated in recent weeks, the United States and foreign NATO troops would pull out of Afghanistan and the Taliban would provide assurances that al-Qaida and "Islamic State" militants would not use the country to launch attacks abroad.
A Taliban member in Qatar, who did not want to be named as he was not authorized to talk to media, told DW earlier this week that talks focused on the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban's commitment to cut ties with terrorist groups.
Other sources in Kabul, however, told DW that both sides have already agreed on these key issues and current discussions are focused on the next stages, including a ceasefire and direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Longest, broadest talks to date
The Taliban has repeatedly refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, opting instead to talk directly with the United States. The US hopes to secure a ceasefire and push direct talks between the government in Kabul and the Taliban, possibly leading to an interim government.
Despite years of US and NATO support to the Afghan government, its security forces have failed to secure the country, nearly half of which is under the control of the Taliban. Last week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that 45,000 members of the security forces had been killed since he took office in 2014.
US envoy Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in recent months in the latest attempt to end a conflict triggered by the US invasion of Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks.
In a sign of their seriousness, the extremist Islamic movement has appointed a co-founder, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to lead negotiations in Qatar. Several other senior Taliban figures are involved in the negotiations.
cw/cmk (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)