By Joe Harker
The US and the Taliban could reach a peace deal that saw American troops leave Afghanistan in exchange for the Taliban no longer helping Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
US troops returning home and the guarantee that Afghanistan won't be used for terrorist attacks seems almost too good to be true and without a deal agreed it's hard to believe until anything is confirmed.
Could there really be peace, or is it an unrealistic prospect?
The Economist reports that both parties are inching towards a peace deal, with a desire to see an agreement reached by September 1.
The Taliban wants US troops out of Afghanistan, the proposed peace deal covers that. The US wants Afghanistan to stop being used as a base for terror attacks against them, the proposed peace deal covers that.
A peace deal between the Taliban and the US would be expected to pave the way towards a further peace deal and a power sharing arrangement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
If a cease fire can be secured and a guarantee that the Taliban will negotiate with the Afghan government then it could be the path to a lasting peace, or at least an uneasy peace sharing deal and a cessation of hostilities.
The ideal scenario is a pragmatic, practical peace deal. Critics and sceptics fear any agreement would be closer to a "peace for our time" situation that falls back into conflict and mistrust.
The Counter Claim:
However, it is difficult to sign a peace deal and expect it to stick when violence continues.
A Taliban bomb outside a police station in the Afghan capital of Kabul killed at least 14 people and injured 145, it's hard to shake hands and make peace when bombs are still going off.
Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan's ambassador to the US, said the regular terrorist attacks were threatening chances of securing a peace deal. She asked why the Taliban were still killing people if they felt they were close to achieving peace.
Peace deals are underpinned by trust and it's hard to trust the Taliban when they're still setting off car bombs.
Such a peace deal is extremely precarious and very vulnerable to falling apart. The simple fact of the matter is tensions are so high and so many people have been killed that peace doesn't mean harmony. It will be difficult to achieve and fragile once built.
There are around 14,000 US troops currently deployed in Afghanistan, with a further 8,500 soldiers from European countries. The peace deal would likely see between 5,000 and 6,000 US troops leave, with the rest departing over the next two years as part of a gradual withdrawal.
The Taliban controls about half of Afghanistan, though the government still controls the main cities. They consider the Afghan government to be an illegitimate puppet of the US.
The war in Afghanistan has been going on since 2001 and over 111,000 Afghani people have been killed in the conflict, of which at least 31,000 are civilian deaths. Other reports suggest up to 360,000 more people have died as an indirect result of the war.