The long war in Afghanistan goes on. Despite the presence of thousands of US and NATO troops, the level of violence is still rising in the country.

The relationship between Afghanistan's government and its best ally, the US, has been sorely tested in recent weeks, with mass protests after copies of the Quran were burned and outrage when a US soldier massacred 16 Afghans.

With the Taliban strong at home and tensions simmering with its neighbour Pakistan, international forces are already starting to withdraw from the country. Most will be gone in 2014 and, adding to the uncertainty for Afghans, that is the very same year their president, Hamid Karzai, is due to step down.

So, is Afghanistan spinning out of control or has the country still a chance for peace?

Al Jazeera's James Bays talks to Zalmai Rassoul, Afghanistan's foreign minister, about negotiations with the US over prisoners and night raids, peace talks with the Taliban and relations with Pakistan.

He tells Talk to Al Jazeera that his country is close to reaching a deal with the US that would build a new long-term partnership and that he is hopeful that talks with the Taliban, stalled for now, can be restarted.

"We have contact with leaders of the Taliban who want peace. After all, 10 years of war have cost a lot for everybody, the Taliban also. And there are people among them who believe its time now to reconcile and integrate in the Afghan society," Rassoul says.

But, he stresses, that: "In order for the peace talks to succeed, they need to be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led."

Talk to Al Jazeera airs each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0430; Sunday: 0830, 1930; Monday 1430.

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Source: Al Jazeera