Washington and the Taliban are set to sign a long-sought deal in Doha on Saturday that would see the two foes agree to the withdrawal of thousands of US troops from Afghanistan in return for insurgent guarantees.
The agreement, which could herald the start of a new era for Afghanistan after decades of conflict, is expected to also lead to a dialogue between the Kabul government and the Taliban that, if successful, could ultimately see the Afghan war wind down.
While Kabul will not be represented at the Doha signing, set for around 1100 GMT, it will send a six-person taskforce to the Qatari capital to make initial contact with the Taliban political office, established in 2013.
As many as 30 nations are expected to be represented at Saturday’s signing in the Qatari capital. The US will stage a separate ceremony in Kabul with the Afghan government at 1215 GMT, an Afghan source told AFP.
The inking of the deal will come after a week-long, partial truce that has mostly held across Afghanistan aimed at building confidence between the warring parties and showing the Taliban can control their forces.