Several rounds of US-Taliban talks have acquired a dynamism of their own and appear to be close to a deal. Because one element of such an agreement -- a US troop withdrawal -- chimes with White House objectives, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad seems ready to leave a negotiated political settlement involving the Kabul government for a later date.
- The contents of a written peace agreement will be of limited significance if not all Taliban forces comply.
- A deal without Kabul on board will undercut US claims of concern for the future of Afghanistan, its people and their rights.
- Washington's leverage over Kabul will decline as its troops pull out.