The U.S. and the Taliban both say they are close to calling it peace after 18 years of war and multiple rounds of tense but cordial negotiations between dark-suited diplomats and turbaned fighters over cups of tea in plush hotels in Doha, Qatar.

On one side of the re-purposed ballroom tables, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is working relentlessly to close the hardest deal of his life: a peace agreement that would allow U.S. forces to withdraw fast enough to meet President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign timetable but buy the Afghan government enough time to negotiate a separate peace with the Taliban.

On the other side sit Taliban commanders who drove the last Soviet forces out of Afghanistan 30 years ago, have fought the U.S.-led coalition to a bloody stalemate, and are still battling Afghan forces while the negotiations continue. An August 7 Taliban suicide attack on a police station in Kabul, the Afghan capital, killed 14 and wounded 145.