Renegade Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is seen at an undisclosed location in this frame grab from a DVD delivered to Agence France-Presse May 5, 2007. Massoud Hossaini/STR/AFP/Getty Images

Afghanistan signed Wednesday a draft agreement with the Hezb-e-Islami militant group that the government hopes could lead to a full peace accord with one of the most notorious warlords in the insurgency.

Hezb-e-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar is a veteran of decades of Afghan war and human rights organizations have accused his group of widespread abuses, particularly during the civil war of the early 1990s, when he briefly served as prime minister.

The U.S. has also linked the group to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and put Hekmatyar on its designated terrorist list.

Hezb-e-Islami has played only a minor role in the Taliban-led insurgency in recent years, and the deal is unlikely to have any immediate practical impact on security.

But with little sign that the Taliban is ready to join peace talks, the deal offers President Ashraf Ghani’s government a concrete sign that it is making headway in drawing insurgent groups away from the battlefield and into the political process.

Mohammad Khan, deputy to government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, said the draft accord was a positive step, but more work would be needed for a final deal. “We are optimistic about this agreement, and we strongly support it,” he told reporters before the accord was signed by a delegation from Hekmatyar’s party and officials from Afghanistan’s High Peace Council. But, he added, “This doesn’t mean it’s finalized.”

A tweet by a Ghani representative said the accord was at the stage of endorsement and verification but had not been signed by the president.

The announcement came as officials from Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the U.S. held another round of meetings in Pakistan, aimed at laying the ground for peace talks with the Taliban, which has refused to join the talks.

Human rights groups have criticized the move toward a deal with Hekmatyar’s group, but the pressure on the government for some sign of progress in bringing peace appears to have outweighed their concerns.

U.S. State Department representative John Kirby said that while Hekmatyar was still designated as a terrorist, the country welcomed the steps to engage in talks with Hezb-e-Islami. “Obviously we hope that it can lead to a better, less violent outcome for the Afghan people,” he said at a regular news briefing.

The State Department included Hekmatyar on its terrorist list in 2003, accusing him of participating in and supporting attacks by al Qaeda and the Taliban.

His group was most recently blamed for a 2013 attack in Kabul where two U.S. soldiers, four U.S. civilian contractors and eight Afghans were killed.

Under the draft, members of Hezb-e-Islami would be offered an amnesty, similar to that offered in 2007 to warlords accused of war crimes, as well as a release of prisoners held by Afghan authorities.

The government would also work to have the group removed from a United Nations blacklist.

The group, which for years had close ties with Pakistan, would not join the government, but it would be recognized as a political party and be involved in major political decisions.