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All-Afghan conference brings country closer to peace

FILE - In this file photo taken on Tuesday, May 28, 2019, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader, left, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai, the Taliban's chief negotiator, second left, and other members of the Taliban delegation speak to reporters prior to their talks in Moscow, Russia. The seventh and latest round of peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban is "critical," said Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen on Sunday June 30, 2019, the second day of talks with Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Mideastern state of Qatar, where the militant group maintains a political office. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An All-Afghan conference that brought Afghanistan’s warring sides together appears to get the country a step closer to peace with a statement that laid out the foundations for a road map to end to nearly 18 years of war.

Washington is hoping the road map can be decided by Sept. 1, also allowing the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops.

In a statement finalized in the early hours Tuesday, a much touted two-day meeting in Doha, Qatar, attended by Taliban, representatives of Afghanistan’s government, women and members of the country’s nascent civil society, agreed a post-war Afghanistan would have an Islamic legal system, protect women’s rights “within the Islamic framework of Islamic values,” and ensure equality for all ethnic groups.

The next step is to start negotiations.