Taliban leaders during peace talks with the U.S. in July in Qatar. Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images
Why it matters: These renewed efforts are key to paving the way for direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul to end a more than 18-year war, AP notes. The first goal for the U.S. is to encourage the Taliban to reduce violence, and ultimately agree to a permanent cease fire. The group has carried out numerous deadly attacks since talks fell apart earlier this year.
The state of play:
- Taliban leaders have refused to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani so far, calling him a "puppet of the U.S.," AP writes.
- Afghanistan is facing an election standoff between Ghani and Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah over allegations of corruption and misconduct in the Sept. 28 elections. The government is currently at a standstill as the two leaders try to share power, but continue to bicker, per Al Jazeera.