January 27, 2019 / 7:15 PM / a month ago

Next round of Afghanistan talks tentatively set for February 25

FILE PHOTO: Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani speaks to the media after arriving to register as a candidate for the upcoming presidential election at the Afghanistan's Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Kabul, Afghanistan January 20, 2019.REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/File Photo

DOHA (Reuters) - Another round of peace talks between Afghanistan’s Taliban and the United States is tentatively set for Feb. 25, a Qatari foreign ministry official said on Sunday, after a draft pact was reached to potentially end the United States’ longest war.

“Both parties agreed tentatively to reconvene on February 25th,” the official told Reuters.

The draft deal, agreed after six days of talks last week, stipulates that U.S. troops would leave within 18 months of the agreement being signed, potentially ending the war more than 17 years after American-led forces invaded Afghanistan.

According to Taliban sources, the hardline Islamic group gave assurances that Afghanistan will not be allowed to be used by al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants to attack the United States and its allies - a key early demand of Washington.

The reported progress comes as the Taliban continues to stage near-daily attacks against the Western-backed Afghan government and its security forces.

Despite the presence of U.S.-led foreign forces training, advising and assisting their Afghan counterparts, the Taliban controls nearly half of Afghanistan.

Reporting by Eric Knecht; Editing by Catherine Evans and Mark Potter

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