Wed. 8:46 am: US, Taliban close to 'reduction in violence' agreement

Clay Curtis
February 14, 2020

Afghan government officials have previously said a cease-fire is a precondition to talks with the Taliban, but both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah expressed optimism about a potential "reduction in violence, " after their separate calls with Pompeo.

In a sequence of tweets late on Tuesday, Ghani stated US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had referred to as him to inform him of developments in the talks, that are going down in Doha.

Today, I was delighted to get a call from @SecPompeo, alerting me of the substantial development made in the continuous peace talks with theTaliban The Secretary alerted me about the Taliban's proposition with concerns to bringing a lasting and substantial decrease in violence.

" We have actually made some significant progress and will soon release a declaration on the agreement on decrease of violence in Afghanistan", the Taliban authorities informed Al Jazeera on Wednesday.

Taliban and US negotiators are due to meet Wednesday in the Qatari capital of Doha.

A third Afghan official said the United States has agreed in principle to a deal, but that it would not be signed until the Taliban could demonstrate a reduction in violence (RIV).

President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, said Tuesday that he is cautiously optimistic there could be a US agreement with the Taliban over the next days or weeks, but that a withdrawal of American forces is not "imminent".

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"We are working to finally end America's longest war and bring our troops back home", he said, offering his blessing for the negotiations with the Taliban.

A senior Afghan defence official said Kabul was ready to continue fighting if the talks collapse.

A USA troop withdrawal pact would be followed by talks between the Taliban and an Afghan delegation that included government officials on a settlement to decades of war, US officials have said.

The insurgents have refused, saying they first want agreements in place that would be guaranteed by worldwide powers such as Gulf states, Russia, China and the United Nations before agreeing to a permanent truce.

Regardless of ongoing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, Afghanistan's conflict has raged on, with the variety of clashes leaping to document ranges in the final quarter of 2019, in accordance to a current USA authorities watchdog report. "Definitely, progress in the talks involves these issues", said Mujiburrahman Rahimi, a spokesman for CE Abdullah Abdullah, referring to the government's peace negotiating team.

But Mr O'Brien said a withdrawal of American forces was not imminent. But the militant group now controls or holds sway over roughly half of the country. The majority of the victims were Afghan civilians.

In 2001, US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan because the militants had given safe haven to the Al-Qaeda network to plan the attacks on the USA on September 11.

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