The United States and the Taliban are heading in the right direction to sign a peace agreement next week after a seven-day interval of decreased violence, American and Taliban officers mentioned Friday.
That agreement, to be signed in Doha, Qatar on Feb. 29, will pave the way in which for a withdrawal of U.S. troops and intra-Afghan negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned it can additionally lead to an eventual everlasting ceasefire.
“We are getting ready for the signing to happen on February 29,” Pompeo mentioned in a press release. “Intra-Afghan negotiations will begin quickly thereafter, and can construct on this basic step to ship a complete and everlasting ceasefire and the longer term political street map for Afghanistan.”
The decreased violence interval, to be noticed by Afghan, worldwide and Taliban forces, started Saturday at 12:00 a.m. native time, and was beforehand introduced by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a televised deal with.
U.S. President Donald Trump has made no secret of his want to get the U.S. out of its “infinite wars” however the street forward is fraught with difficulties.
It’s nonetheless not clear who will symbolize Kabul on the negotiation desk for the intra-Afghan talks, thought-about a key pillar to find a long-lasting peace within the war-torn nation. The Afghan election fee earlier this week declared Ghani the winner of presidential elections held in September however his predominant rival Abdullah Abdullah denounced the end result.
The Taliban have refused to speak to Ghani’s authorities and likewise denounced the election outcomes, saying they are going to speak to authorities representatives however solely as abnormal Afghans.
The Taliban issued its personal assertion on the discount of violence deal.
“Both events will now create an appropriate safety state of affairs upfront of the agreement signing date, prolong invites to senior representatives of quite a few international locations and organizations to take part within the signing ceremony, make preparations for the discharge of prisoners, construction a path for intra-Afghan negotiations with numerous political events of the nation and at last lay the groundwork for peace throughout the nation with the withdrawal of all overseas forces,” the Taliban mentioned in a press release Friday.
The Taliban added that it’ll not permit “the land of Afghanistan to be used in opposition to safety of others in order that our folks can stay a peaceable and affluent life beneath the shade of an Islamic system.”
The Pentagon has declined to say whether or not the U.S. had agreed to minimize its troop ranges in Afghanistan to zero. Defence Secretary Mark Esper has mentioned if the seven-day truce is profitable and the Afghan peace talks start, the U.S. would scale back its troop contingent “over time” to about 8,600.
There are about 12,000 U.S. troops within the nation at present.
.<a href=”https://twitter.com/SecPompeo?ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>@SecPompeo</a> introduced that the U.S. reached an understanding with the Taliban on a big, nationwide discount in violence throughout Afghanistan that may assist to transfer our <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/AfghanPeaceProcess?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#AfghanPeaceProcess</a> ahead. This will advance progress towards a political settlement in <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Afghanistan?src=hash&ref_src=twsrcpercent5Etfw”>#Afghanistan</a>. <a href=”https://t.co/PdsQYdooT1″>pic.twitter.com/PdsQYdooT1</a>
Suhail Shaheen, spokesperson for the Taliban’s political workplace in Doha, tweeted that the Taliban count on an entire withdrawal. In a Pashto-language tweet, he mentioned: “Based on the agreement with the U.S., all worldwide forces will depart Afghanistan and the invasion will finish and nobody might be allowed to use Afghan soil in opposition to others.”
Neighbouring Pakistan, which has lengthy been accused of backing the Taliban, welcomed the reduction-in-violence plan.
“We hope the Afghan events would now seize this historic alternative and work out a complete and inclusive political settlement for sturdy peace and stability in Afghanistan and the area,” mentioned a Pakistan Foreign Ministry assertion. Pakistan hosts greater than 1.four million Afghan refugees.
In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the developments as “a important check of the Taliban’s willingness and talent to cut back violence, and contribute to peace in good religion.”
“This may pave the way in which for negotiations amongst Afghans, sustainable peace and making certain the nation is rarely once more a protected haven for terrorists,” he mentioned.
The alliance has some 16,000 troops in Afghanistan serving to to practice its safety forces, nevertheless it may draw down its operation to accommodate any agency peace agreement.