U.S. peace talks with the Taliban are set to take place soon, with the Obama administration calling the chats a "milestone" in the effort to find a peaceful settlement to the war in Afghanistan. Still, critics aren't convinced that finding common ground with the Taliban is even possible, and fear that the talks will go nowhere.
U.S. officials will meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar to begin a long and complex process of negotiation, the goal of which is to find a way to end the Afghanistan War, which the U.S. has been fighting for over a decade.
Senior Obama administration officials announced that the U.S. peace talks with the Taliban will take place over the next several days, though a precise date was not announced.
"This is a key milestone on the way to the complete transition of responsibility for security to Afghans by the end of next year," a senior U.S. official told NBC News.
But critics wonder if the U.S. should brace for disappointment.
"I wouldn't be looking for early results," said another key official. "The level of trust on both sides is extremely low, as one might expect."
"It's going to be a long, hard process – if indeed it advances significantly at all," he added.
The U.S. will also serve a mostly facilitator's role, with senior officials saying that the negotiations will need to be led "by the Afghans."
They also praised Pakistan for being instrumental in "urging the other side - that is, the Taliban - to come to the peace process."
But peace might be a hard bargain for the Taliban. General Joseph Dunford, the top commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, says that the key to the end of the war will be the Taliban's renouncement of violence. This is something he doesn't find likely.
"All I've seen of the Haqqanis would make it hard for me to believe that they are reconcilable," he said.
However, there doesn't seem to be much choice. "We all realize that the successful conclusion of the campaign is eventually going to come through the political process," he continued.
Do you think that the U.S. peace talks with the Taliban will lead to the end of the war in Afghanistan?