US hails talks with Taliban, denies troop withdrawal window

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KABUL, Afghanistan: A US official says the latest round of talks with the Taliban – as now in their second week – has been “very productive,” while strenuously denying Washington sought a fixed deadline for the withdrawal of its estimated 14,000 troops from Afghanistan.
A member of the American negotiating team in Qatar’s capital, Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office and talks are being held, told The Associated Press Friday that the US “definitely did not offer” an 18-month withdrawal as part of a peace deal.
Speaking anonymously because of the sensitivity of the talks, the US negotiator was responding to a timeframe that Taliban officials told the AP months earlier.
Also on Saturday, prominent Afghan figures were headed to Qatar ahead of much-anticipated all-Afghan talks to begin on Sunday.

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