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US, Taliban reach truce agreement calling for 'reduction in violence'

14 Feb 2020 Fox News

American and Taliban officials have agreed Friday to sign a truce agreement that will see a seven-day “reduction in violence” in Afghanistan, in addition to possible U.S. troop withdrawals.

A source familiar with the discussions told Fox News that the U.S. is hoping to sign the agreement by the end of the month in Doha, Qatar, where special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives have been meeting.

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

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during the 56th Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, on Friday. (AP)

“If it holds – and that is a big if – then 10 days later there would be negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban about the way ahead in Afghanistan,” Fox News’ Jennifer Griffin said on "America’s Newsroom." “If all of that goes as planned then you could see a significant reduction in the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.”

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press the Taliban had committed to a halt in roadside and suicide bombings as well as rocket attacks. The official said the U.S. would monitor the truce and determine if there were any violations.

A Taliban official familiar with the deal said the withdrawal of foreign troops would start gradually and would be phased over 18 months.

The developments come as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper met Friday in Munich with Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani. They spoke on the sidelines of an international security forum in Munich.

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A truce had been widely anticipated, and President Trump has agreed in principle to the deal, according to U.S. officials.

The final details were hammered out in recent days by Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha. Khalilzad was in Munich and attended Pompeo and Esper's meeting as did Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan.

Fox News’ Rich Edson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original Link: https://www.foxnews.com/world/us-taliban-reach-truce-agreement

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