It is being called a first step towards lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The United States and the Taliban have signed a preliminary deal towards ending nearly 20 years of war.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed since the US-led invasion began in 2001.

The agreement follows 18 months of talks in Doha, Qatar.

The first stage involves the exchange of 6,000 prisoners and what is called a "meaningful reduction of violence" over the next 135 days.

It is hoped this will then lead to foreign troops pulling out and direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which has not been involved in the process.

Will the deal succeed? And will the Afghan people's rights be protected?

Presenter: Nick Clark

Guests:

Habib Wardak - National security analyst and lecturer at Kardan University in Kabul

Fawzia Koofi - Leader of the political party "Movement of Change for Afghanistan" and former member of Parliament

Bharath Gopalaswamy - Director of the Atlantic Council's South Asia Centre 

Source: Al Jazeera News