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State Department: ‘reduction in violence’ with Taliban starts tonight, peace…

by Ace Damon
State Department: 'reduction in violence' with Taliban starts tonight, peace...

An agreement between the United States and the Taliban could reach February 29, Afghanistan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement released Friday.

According to Pompeo, the United States "reached an agreement with the Taliban" on a reduction in violence that could lead to the signing of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban next week. The signature depends on the "successful implementation" of the agreement, Pompeo said.

Last week, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the deal included a seven-day reduction in violence. A senior State Department official confirmed that the reduction in the period of violence will begin tonight Afghanistan and the signing will take place on the 29th in Doha between a Taliban representative and the US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khlalilzad.

"Intra-Afghan" negotiations will begin "soon after" to eventually lead to a ceasefire in Afghanistan, Pompeo said.

"The only way to achieve sustainable peace in Afghanistan is for Afghans to come together and agree on the way forward," he said.

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Molly Phee, the State Department's deputy special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan, said Tuesday that the seven-day period would be a "period of testing the Taliban's intentions and controlling its forces" and a "proof of concept of your commitment to peace ".

Phee explained that the seven-day period "will set the stage" for the signing of the US-Taliban agreement, which could lead to "further reductions in violence, inter-Afghan negotiations, a political settlement and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire" .

Phee admitted that there may be "spoilers who don't want this effort to succeed" and try to disrupt the deal.

Pompeo's announcement does not guarantee peace in Afghanistan. Previous negotiations with the Taliban were interrupted after outbreaks of violence.

President Donald Trump said last November, while visiting troops at the Bagram airfield in Afghanistan, that he resumed peace talks with the Taliban.

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There are about 13,000 US soldiers in Afghanistan whose mission is divided between training Afghan security forces and carrying out counterterrorism missions. The American military presence there dates back to 2001, when American troops helped to overthrow the Taliban government, which housed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

More than 2,400 US soldiers were killed there and more than 20,000 wounded in the fighting. Last year, the Pentagon estimated the cost to local war contributors at $ 737 billion.

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper said last week, the "seven-day reduction in violence" had been negotiated, although the period has not yet begun.

"We have said all along that the best, if not the only, solution in Afghanistan is a political settlement," Esper said at the time. "Progress has been made on this front, and we will have more information on that soon, I hope."

Contributing: Tom Vanden Brook

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