Taliban and Afghan peace negotiators have agreed on a code of conduct to safeguard against the risk of any breakdown in talks that began last month in Qatar to bring an end to decades of war, three official sources told Reuters on Tuesday. The breakthrough was achieved with the help of US officials, as the two sides drew up 19 ground rules that their negotiators should observe during talks, the sources said. While the talks have been taking place in Qatar’s capital Doha, scores of Afghan soldiers and Taliban fighters have been killed in clashes and suicide attacks in which dozens of civilians have also died in recent weeks. “Firming up code of conduct was extremely crucial as it proves that both sides are willing to continue talks even as we see that violence has not reduced on the ground,” said one senior Western diplomat on conditions of anonymity. After Reuters reported that the parties had set the ground rules, the Afghan government negotiating team tweeted that the Reuters report was “incorrect”, without elaborating. When asked about the tweet, a senior official involved in the talks on the government side said officials objected to any implication that a formal agreement had been reached, but did not deny some ground rules had been set. Official sources involved in the peace process said the breakthrough came during a trip on Monday by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Qatar’s capital Doha. Ghani held talks there with Qatari leaders as well as U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan, General Austin Miller.