ISLAMABAD (AP) — A statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad says Washington’s peace envoy has told Pakistani officials that Afghanistan’s Taliban and Kabul’s political leaders are close to starting negotiations to decide the face of a post-war Afghanistan.

That's a crucial next step in a U.S. deal signed with the Taliban in February.

Zalmay Khalilzad was in the region to pave the way for intra-Afghan negotiations expected to begin sometime this month.

No date had been set, but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said late Wednesday the first round would be held in Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

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