No deal announced as US, Taliban wrap up latest talks

The latest round of talks between the Taliban and the United States has ended without the announcement of a peace deal for Afghanistan, as both sides say they will consult with their leaderships on the next steps

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the talks that began on Aug. 3 in the Gulf nation of Qatar were "productive" and that he was heading to Washington for consultations. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called the discussions "long and useful." Neither provided details on their outcome.

The Taliban have continued to stage near-daily attacks across Afghanistan despite the months of negotiations with the U.S. The attacks mainly target Afghan forces and government officials but also kill many civilians .

The U.S. has pressed for a cease-fire and a framework for inter-Afghan talks, but so far the insurgents have refused to recognize the Afghan government, dismissing it as a U.S. puppet.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, frustrated at being sidelined, on Sunday rejected foreign interference in Afghan affairs.

The Taliban are at their strongest since the U.S.-led invasion toppled their five-year government in 2001 after the group had harbored al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. More than 2,400 U.S. service members have died in Afghanistan since then. The U.S. and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but around 20,000 American and allied troops remain in the country.

Khalilzad tweeted Sunday that he hoped this would be the last Eid al-Adha in which Afghanistan is at war, referring to the Muslim holiday that began over the weekend. The Taliban's holiday message expressed the hope that future Eids would unfold "without occupation, under an environment of permanent peace and unity."


Gannon reported from New York.