On September 12th, officials from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban met in Doha to begin formal talks to reach a political settlement to the insurgency. This major milestone in the conflict marks the first time that the two sides have engaged in direct, official peace talks. The opening of talks also fulfills a key condition of the U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in late February, which laid out a roadmap for negotiations predicated on a conditional U.S. troop withdrawal timeline and Taliban counter-terrorism assurances. The other two main elements of the U.S.-Taliban deal are direct intra-Afghan negotiations and movement toward an enduring cease-fire.

While getting to talks has been a difficult achievement, in some ways the real challenges are just beginning—as the sides work to agree on an agenda that will include deep-rooted disagreements about governance and the role of Islam. 

On September 24, USIP hosted a discussion with U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad. Since his appointment in September 2018, Special Representative Khalilzad has brokered the U.S.-Taliban agreement, enlisted regional support for a peace process, and worked with both sides to get them to the negotiating table. The conversation drew on this vast experience to assess a critical moment in the peace process and the U.S. goals for the negotiations that lie ahead. 

Continue the conversation with #AfghanPeace.


Zalmay Khalilzad, keynote address
Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, U.S. Department of State; Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Afghanistan, and Iraq

The Honorable Stephen J. Hadley, moderator
Chair, Board of Directors, U.S. Institute of Peace 

Andrew Wilder, welcoming remarks
Vice President, Asia Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

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