>> Years of war, American officials are sending some of the clearest signs yet that a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is in the works after peace talks yielded progress toward a deal. A senior US government official told Reuters on Monday, Washington is committed to bringing US troops home, and leaving behind a good legacy.
Those comments follow six days of US peace talks with Afghan Taliban militants in Qatar. The official described significant progress in those talks, but said more negotiations were needed to address the withdrawal and a cease fire. Reuters correspondent Jonathan Landay is following the story.>> I think it's probably way too early for there to be any jubilation about where the talks have gone after six days in Doha.
But the mere fact that the United States is talking to the Taliban directly is a good sign.>> Before meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters he had been briefed on the talks.>> I'd say, really, the takeaway right now, it's encouraging
>> The US official said there could not be a withdrawal without a ceasefire, but the Taliban want US and allied troops gone first. On Monday, The New York Times reported the two sides had agreed on a framework for a deal. About 14,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan as part of a NATO led mission to train, advise, and assist the Afghan forces.
t the Taliban controls nearly half the country, and stages frequent attacks against the Western-backed Afghan government and its security forces. An attack in Central Afghanistan a week ago killed scores of security personnel. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in a televised address Monday, urged the Taliban to open talks with Afghan authorities.
>> The fact is that the Taliban have yet to make any kind of commitment to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, which is something they've been refusing to do steadily for years. And that is a condition that the United States has set for any kind of agreement, that there must be direct talks between the government in Kabul and the Taliban.
>> Ghani also said the foreign troops in Afghanistan would not be required forever.