Published: Sat, February 15, 2020
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Taliban peace deal 'on the table,' says Esper

Taliban peace deal 'on the table,' says Esper

The United States has secured a seven-day partial truce with the Taliban, following talks to negotiate a path to peace in Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said on Thursday.

The official told reporters at a security conference in Munich the agreement with the Taliban had yet to take effect.

Stoltenberg told journalists on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference that he was scheduled to have a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani later in the day to discuss ways of finding 'a peaceful, negotiated solution to the conflict in Afghanistan'.

It came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said there was a "good chance" of reaching an agreement with the Taliban on a reduction of U.S. troops almost two decades after the U.S. -led invasion of the country. And they noted that, despite Trump's campaign pledge to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Republican president has nixed previous deals that appeared close in response to attacks on US forces.

One of them: US negotiators will likely book the best to come to the support of all Afghan forces with air power.

The agreement, according to a senior US official who spoke to reporters Friday, calls for a "very specific" stoppage of violence and covers the entire country, including Afghan forces.

The sources say that the a partial truce could lead to the signing of a peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban that he would see the United States draw thousands of troops from Afghanistan, in exchange for which the Taliban would provide various security guarantees and launch eventual talks with the Kabul government.

However, there'll be deterrents from the Taliban Growing up attacks after reaching a deal with the United States.

US troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan August 7, 2018.

"I think we're very close", Trump said on a podcast broadcast on iHeart Radio when asked if a tentative deal had been reached.

"In Afghanistan, as in so many other places, the civilians are the people who bear the brunt of it, and we obviously remain committed to supporting an Afghan-led peace process that is inclusive, with the meaningful participation of women and youth", said Dujarric.

"That doesn't mean we'll have one but we'll know over the next two weeks", he said. "And if we can get there and we can hold that posture for a while, we may well be able to begin the real serious discussion, which is all the Afghans sitting at a table, finding a true reconciliation path forward - a hard set of conversations, but one that's long overdue".

To make good on its promise to release Taliban prisoners, Washington is going to need Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has been critical of the way USA envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has conducted the talks, complaining about being kept in the dark.

The Taliban stages near-daily attacks and though they are negotiating with USA envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the armed group refuses to talk directly to Ghani's government, calling it a "puppet" of the West. "They will support those arrangements for the rest of Afghanistan".

US officials have brushed aside claims that a Taliban ultimatum forced their hand.

Earlier this month, Taliban religious leaders delivered a strong message to the United States through their negotiation team and asked them to sign the peace accord before the onset of the "fighting season" in spring.

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