Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy for Afghanistan, said the timetable for the departure of foreign troops from Afghanistan by May 2021 remained on track and that he wanted a comprehensive ceasefire by then. The persistence of violence on both sides remains an obstacle to a final peace agreement. During the preliminary talks, the Taliban continued to fight on the battlefield and launched terrorist attacks in the capital and also threatened the 2019 Afghan presidential elections on September 28.  According to U.S. Air Force statistics released in February 2020, the U.S. dropped more bombs on Afghanistan in 2019 than any other year since 2013.  Important players such as Qatar, which is hosting the talks, and neighboring Pakistan, whose government and military helped pressure the Taliban to bring them to the negotiating table, also welcomed the deal, which Doha called a “milestone.” Peace negotiations resumed in December 2019, which led to a seven-day partial peace that began on 22 February 2020.  Between April 29 and May 3, 2019, the Afghan government held a four-day loya Jirga to discuss peace talks. On March 27, 2020, the Afghan government announced the creation of a team of 21 negotiators for the peace talks. . . .