Talks between US and Taliban officials in Qatar entered a fourth day yesterday, with the two sides trying to establish a mechanism for a ceasefire in the 17-year Afghan war and open dialogue between the insurgents and the Afghan government.
US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad's meeting with Taliban representatives was originally slated to run over two days, and its unexpected extension was a positive sign, according to two senior Taliban leaders in Afghanistan who have been kept informed of the progress made in Qatar.
During the first two days, the talks focused on a roadmap for the withdrawal of the foreign forces and a guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used for hostile acts against the United States and its allies, according to one of Taliban leaders.
"The mechanism for a ceasefire and ways to enter into an intra-Afghan dialogue were the two other big topics that were supposed to be discussed on Thursday," he told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A third source based in the Gulf, who has close ties to the Taliban representatives, said the decision to extend the meeting in the Qatari capital Doha came after "positive progress" during the first two days.
Officials at the US embassy in Kabul were not immediately available to comment on the diplomatic developments.