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Yet, they warned that there were no quick-fixes to resolve the crisis, and a lengthy process of negotiations was in the offing. “This is but the first step in what will be a long road,” one U.S. official was quoted as saying. In Doha, Mohammed Naim, a Taliban spokesman, announced over television that his group’s political and military goals were confined to Afghanistan alone, and would not cover other countries.

The Taliban’s declaration was apparently timed to bring about internal reconciliation ahead of the withdrawal of U.S.-led NATO forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

On Tuesday, Afghan forces were on the eve of assuming full responsibility for providing security cover to the entire country, marking a milestone ahead of the pull-out of NATO forces next year.