Thu, 21 Nov 2019

The U.S. military says two of its service members have been killed in Afghanistan.

A statement said the killings occurred on June 26, but it did not provide any details surrounding the circumstances of the deaths, which bring the tally of U.S. service member deaths in Afghanistan to at least six this year.

The death of the two service members came less than 24 hours after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a previously unannounced visit to the Afghan capital, Kabul, during which he said Washington was hopeful of a peace deal with the Taliban "before September 1."

The United States began a fresh push last September to bring the militant group to the negotiating table to end the nearly 18-year Afghan conflict -- the longest war in U.S. history.

The U.S. envoy seeking a peace deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, has held six rounds of talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha. The next round is scheduled to begin on June 29.

The talks are expected to focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee that militants will not plot attacks from Afghan soil.

'All sides agree that finalizing a U.S.-Taliban understanding on terrorism and foreign troop presence will open the door to intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiation,' Pompeo said.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are deployed in Afghanistan.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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