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US-Taliban deal expected after 'reduction in violence'

February 21, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington is set to sign a deal with the Taliban on February 29. It comes after an agreement was reached to enforce a weeklong "reduction in violence" starting Saturday.

Afghan security forces remove a damaged vehicle after a bomb blast in Nangarhar province, east of Kabul.
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/W. Sabawoon

The US and the Taliban are set to sign a deal at the end of the month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday. 

It comes after Taliban, Afghan and US forces agreed to a weeklong "reduction in violence."

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

Read moreAfghan President Ashraf Ghani: US-Taliban deal to come within days

If carried out effectively, the weeklong reduction in violence is seen as a test that will show whether the Taliban can control their forces and fulfill their commitments after the deal is concluded. 

Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said if the seven-day truce is successful, the the US would reduce its troop contingent "over time'' to about 8,600. There currently are about 12,000 US troops in the Afghanistan. 

Taliban has 'everything they wanted' 

The Taliban have "nothing to prove by thwarting this process, because they have essentially got everything they wanted," Kabul-based journalist Ali Latif told DW.

"And if they sign a deal on February 29, the US troops will have to start their withdrawal. So now the question is: WIll the governments in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran take this seriously and stop being spoilers in the process." 

Read moreUS-Taliban peace deal – so near, yet so far

Afghan forces will maintain normal military operations against other terrorist groups, such as the so-called Islamic State (IS), during the reduction-in-violence period, said Javed Faisal, Afghanistan's National Security Council spokesman.

The Pentagon has said that the US would retain the right to continue counter-terrorism operations against IS and al-Qaida,

"Local government and security officials have been instructed by the president himself on how to follow the regulations agreed upon for the RIV period."

The Taliban previously refused to speak directly with the Afghan government, which they say is a puppet of the US. 

The US and Taliban were  on the verge of a deal in September, when President Donald Trump suddenly decided to scrap a key meeting following the killing of a US soldier by Taliban forces.

'The road ahead is not easy'

wmr,lc/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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