Participants attend the opening of two-day talks between the Taliban and Afghan opposition representatives at the President Hotel in Moscow on Feb. 5, 2019. The Taliban refuse to recognize the government in Kabul, and that's a major roadblock to peace.
After 17 years of war, the United States is sitting down for talks with a militant group it overthrew in 2001. A U.S. delegation headed by special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad gathered with Taliban officials, including senior Taliban official Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Doha on Feb. 25 for the start of a fifth round of negotiations to end Afghanistan's long war. For the moment, the sides are focusing on five issues: the withdrawal of the 14,000 U.S. and 8,000 coalition troops in the country, a cease-fire, a Taliban pledge to prevent the Islamic State's Khorasan Province and al Qaeda from using Afghanistan to launch attacks, the possibility that the militant group could eventually sit down with President Ashraf Ghani's administration, as well as the Taliban's demand that the U.N. Security Council lift sanctions against them. An immediate breakthrough in talks to end decades of conflict might not be in the offing,...
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