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The U.S. is increasingly focused on jump-starting peace negotiations with the Taliban, especially because the country is scheduled to bring most of its combat troops home from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The Taliban have agreed to set up a political office in Qatar to facilitate negotiations. But the peace process has been shrouded in rumor and uncertainty, and it’s unclear how much urgency the militants feel to strike a deal given that foreign troops are on their way out.

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Gearan reported from Washington.