That much seemed in agreement. But as always, the devil is in the details. How long would the cease-fire be, and would it start before, after or even during the American withdrawal?
Taliban sources remained optimistic, even as Western diplomats expressed concern that there would be no deal from this round of Doha talks . On Saturday afternoon, Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban official who now lives in Kabul but keeps close contacts with insurgent leaders, said he had just spoken to them
"I've been told that talks are going very well and we has close to an agreement, "he said. Whatever the result this time, Mr. Agha said, "Afghanistan has never been so close to peace in these past years. What is happening now has never happened before. "
That was before Mr. Khalilzad, an Afghan-American and a former ambassador to Afghanistan, had even begun the latest round of direct negotiations with the Taliban, which began on Monday, and were initially expected to last only a couple of days, as previous sessions had
up to now have come and gone, and most observers do not believe that the Afghan military can stand against the Taliban without American support. Once the Americans leave, who will guarantee any truce?
Ryan Crocker, a former American ambassador to Afghanistan, said that it was a rush for the exits
"I can not see this as anything more than an effort to put lipstick on what will be a US withdrawal, "he said. Mr. Crocker said he reminded him of the Paris peace talks on Vietnam