(International THE NEWS): The US and Taliban officials have been negotiating in Qatar since last year on an agreement centred on the withdrawal of US forces, and an end to their longest-ever war, in exchange for a Taliban guarantee that international militant groups will not plot from Afghan soil. US negotiators have been pressing the Taliban to agree to peace talks with the Kabul government and to a ceasefire, but a senior Taliban official said that would not happen. “We will continue our fight against the Afghan government and seize power by force,” a Taliban commander was quoted as saying by a British wire service. US President Donald Trump is impatient to get US forces out of Afghanistan and end the 18-year war that was launched after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. But there are fears among Afghan officials and US national security aides that a US troop withdrawal could see Afghanistan plunged into a new round of civil war that could herald a return of Taliban rule and international militants, including Islamic State, finding a refuge. Another Taliban commander, who also declined to be identified, said a deal was expected to be signed this week under which US forces, which provide all-important air support to Afghan troops, will stop attacking the Taliban and the militants would end their fight against the US troops. Under the pact, the United States would also cease supporting the Afghan government, the Taliban officials said. “The Americans will not come to the assistance of the Afghan government and its forces in their fight against us,” the first Taliban official said. Zalmay Khalilzad, the veteran Afghan-American diplomat who has been leading negotiations on the US side, however rejected the suggestion that US forces would no longer support the Kabul government, saying “no one should be intimidated or fooled by propaganda”. “Let me be clear: We will defend Afghan forces now and after any agreement with the Talibs,” he wrote on Twitter in reaction to the report. “All sides agree Afghanistan’s future will be determined in intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said. “A ceasefire between the Afghan forces and the Taliban requires a separate agreement and deliberations are yet to begin,” said one diplomat who has monitored the Qatar talks. “The US-Taliban agreement will stop US from conducting air strikes on the Taliban, and the Taliban will stop insider attacks on the US and other foreign soldiers,” the diplomat said. One Western diplomat said preparations were being made for talks between the rival Afghan sides in Norway. A group of at least 30 Afghans had been identified by the government and its allies to talk to the Taliban. Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban political office in Doha, said negotiations had gone on late into Sunday. Most issues had been resolved but a formal agreement had yet to be concluded, he said.