US to announce 4,000-troop drawdown from Afghanistan


But Taliban suicide bombers targeted a key US military base on Wednesday.

Khalilzad had renewed talks with the Taliban earlier this month on steps that could lead to a ceasefire and settlement of the 18-year-long war in Afghanistan, allowing a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

A spokesman for the Pakistan Army said Gen Bajwa and Mr Khalilzad discussed the "regional security situation with particular reference to [the] ongoing Afghan reconciliation process". He also lauded Pakistan's role in the Afghan peace process.

Qureshi, for his part, reiterated his country would continue to support a smooth progress and successful outcome of peace efforts aimed at ending the lingering war in neighboring Afghanistan.

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As special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Mr Khalilzad leads the U.S. team in the talks with the Taliban and engages with other states involved in the peace process.

A pair of Taliban bombs detonated by suicide attackers at a nearby hospital shattered windows and damaged buildings at Bagram Airfield, spurring cleanup efforts after Wednesday's failed attempt by the insurgents to breach the base.

The Americans also believe that Pakistan can convince the Taliban to conclude a peace agreement with the United States and the US-backed Afghan government in Kabul.

Taliban have opened new battle fronts across the war-torn nation in recent years as Afghan security forces - suffering casualties and desertions - struggle to beat back a revitalized insurgency.

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The U.S. side however announced Thursday a pause in talks with the Taliban after an attack near a U.S. airbase in Afghanistan "which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians", according to U.S. special representative for Afghanistan peace talks Zalmay Khalilzad.

"Taliban must show they are willing & [and] able to respond to Afghan desire for peace", Khalilzad said in a tweet.

Hours after the attack, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault.

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