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US, Taliban Negotiated 7-Day Reduction in Violence, Esper

US, Taliban Negotiated 7-Day Reduction in Violence: Esper

WASHINGTON – US Defense Secretary Mark Esper at a press conference on Thursday, the second and final day of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, announced that the Trump administration and the Taliban had negotiated a seven-day reduction in violence proposal.
“The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence. I am here today consulting with allies about this proposal, and we had a series of productive bilateral and collective meetings about the path forward,” said Esper.
“Progress has been made on this front, and we will have more to report on that soon,” said Esper.
“The only solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement; progress has been made on this front, and we’ll have more to report on that soon, I hope,” Esper said.
Meanwhile, top Pentagon officials have told CNN that the United States is seeking to seal a peace deal with the Taliban as soon as this week.
The signing of a potential peace agreement will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces from the country, CNN quoted the US defense officials as saying.
When asked if seven days are enough to evaluate the Taliban’s sincerity for ending the conflict, Esper said that in Washington’s perspective the seven days’ reduction in violence, for now, is enough, but, it’s a “conditions-based” process.
On the sidelines of the conference, Afghan acting Minister of Defense Assadullah Khalid met with Esper, and the US defense secretary reaffirmed Washington’s enduring support to the Afghan security forces, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
“In today’s NATO defense ministers meeting, all allies reiterated their commitment to support Afghan security forces, particularly the Afghan National Army, until 2024,” Khalid told TOLOnews in Brussels.
Sources say the partial truce could lead to the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal that would see the US pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan, in return the Taliban would provide various security guarantees and launch eventual talks with the Kabul government.
The news of a potential agreement comes amid continued attacks by the Taliban, who control about 40 percent of Afghanistan, according to Afghan defence officials.
Last month the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a US government agency, assessed that there had been a record-high number of attacks by the Taliban and other anti-government forces in the last three months of 2019.
(Sahar News)

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