What Happened: Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, is traveling to Qatar to resume peace talks with the Taliban and will later visit Kabul for consultations with the Afghan government, the U.S. State Department said Aug. 20.
Why It Matters: Khalilzad's return indicates the U.S. willingness to sign a deal with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. The envoy indicated that he intends for an agreement to be completed before Afghanistan's presidential elections, currently scheduled for Sept. 28.
Background: The United States and the Taliban have held nine rounds of dialogue since October 2018. Talks between both sides have centered around four issues: a permanent cease-fire, a U.S. troop withdrawal, a Taliban counterterrorism pledge and a Taliban commitment to engage in dialogue with the Afghan government.