The US and the Taliban were thrashing out elements of a deal to bring a close to Afghanistan’s 18-year conflict at the second day of renewed talks in Doha yesterday. The US, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban in 2001, wants to withdraw thousands of troops and turn the page on its longest ever war. But it would first seek assurances from the insurgents that they will renounce al-Qaeda ties and stop other militants like the Islamic State group using the country as a haven. The talks, now in their eighth round, began on Saturday with no end date issued publicly. Washington is hoping to strike a peace deal with the Taliban by September 1 -- ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and US presidential elections due in 2020.