Published: Fri, February 21, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan to begin, USA announces

Seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan to begin, USA announces

The Taliban have refused a complete ceasefire, but a senior State Department official told AP the agreed lull would begin "tonight", without specifying the exact time.

Fulfillment of an agreement for the Taliban leader, he wrote, would mean the withdrawal of all foreign troops in Afghanistan.

Should the violence reduction hold, American and Taliban negotiators will sign a peace deal possibly as soon as by the end of the month.

That peace agreement, to be signed in Doha, Qatar on February 29, will pave the way for a withdrawal of US troops and intra-Afghan negotiations.

A week-long "reduction in violence" between the Taliban, the U.S. and Afghan security forces will commence shortly, Afghanistan's National Security Council spokesman Javed Faisal told AFP on Friday.

The Taliban have previously refused to speak directly to the Kabul government, which they denounce as a USA puppet.

Numerous details of the reduction in violence remains unclear.

"We hope it is extended for a longer time and opens the way for a ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks", he added.

Javid Faisal, spokesperson for the Afghan National Security Adviser, speaking to Reuters, said: "Based on the plan, the reduction in violence will start between the Taliban and worldwide and Afghan security forces for one week".

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The militants had previously rejected the idea of a full-blown cease-fire with Afghan forces, leading US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to pursue a deal to "reduce" violence.

"Upon a successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward", Pompeo said.

The Taliban issued their own statement on the reduction of violence deal.

Afghan men bury the bodies of security forces killed in a suicide attack on Saturday, in Kunduz province, north of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019.

The United States has for more than a year been in talks with the Taliban for a deal in which it would pull out thousands of troops in return for a set of Taliban security guarantees and commitments.

The U.S. has 12,000 to 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, but in December three current and former U.S. officials said that the Trump administration was poised to withdraw approximately 4,000 of them.

"Everyone is exhausted of war", Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of the Haqqani network in Afghanistan, wrote in a significant opinion piece in the The New York Times. The long war has exacted a bad cost from everyone. For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day.

"Following lengthy negotiations between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the United States of America, both parties agreed to sign the finalized accord in the presence of worldwide observers", a Taliban spokesman said in a statement. From January 2009, when the United Nations began a systematic documentation of civilian casualties, to September previous year, some 34,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the armed conflict.

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