WASHINGTON  -   US peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has said the United States is not “cutting and running” from the war-torn country as it negotiates a peace agreement with the Taliban.

Khalilzad’s prerecorded video statement, shown at a conference held at Georgetown University in Washington on July 11, came two days after the Taliban and a delegation representing Afghan society agreed at talks in Qatar on a road map for a future political settlement in what was seen as a major step toward ending Afghanistan’s nearly 18-year war. “We would like to leave a very positive legacy here,” Khalilzad said.

“We are not cutting and running. We’re not looking for a withdrawal agreement. We’re looking for a peace agreement. And we’re looking for a long-term relationship and partnership with Afghanistan.”

Khalilzad has held eight rounds of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, describing the latest round that ended on July 9 as the “most productive” ever. In his video statement, Khalilzad said that “we have made substantial progress” on four key issues.

 Those issues include the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, a permanent ceasefire, a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for attacks in other countries, and an inter-Afghan dialogue that leads to a political settlement.

The Taliban have so far refused to hold direct negotiations with the Afghan government, although Khalilzad said he expected those to begin in the “near future”.