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Afghan President Meets Key US, NATO Officials in Munich

15 Feb 2020 Tolo News

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani is meeting with top US and NATO officials on Friday in Germany at the Munich Security Conference, according to tweets from the Presidential Palace.

 This comes as events in the US-Taliban peace negotiation talks in Doha appear to accelerate, following an announcement earlier this week of US President Trump’s “conditional” approval of a peace plan that would apparently lead to the withdrawal of US troops, and Thursday’s statement by Defense Secretary Mark Esper of a seven-day reduction in violence agreement with the Taliban, made in Doha, Qatar.

Ghani’s spokesman tweeted that a meeting is underway in Munich between President Ghani, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and General Scott Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan.

“Today I’ll meet President Ghani and we’ll discuss efforts to find a peaceful negotiated solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. NATO currently has around 16,000 troops in Afghanistan and we are ready to adjust that force level if the Taliban is able to demonstrate the real will and ability to reduce violence,” NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Munich Germany on Friday.

“Important discussion with President Ashraf Ghani about the way forward in Afghanistan. NATO Allies & partners remain firmly committed to create the conditions for a sustainable peace. The Taliban need to show the will & ability to reduce violence & negotiate in good faith,” NATO chief tweeted.

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US, Taliban Negotiated 7-Day Reduction in Violence: Esper

'Lasting Peace' Must be Afghan-Owned: Stoltenberg

NATO Chief Urges Intra-Afghan Talks

This comes a day after US Defense Secretary Mark Esper at the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels announced that the Trump administration and the Taliban had negotiated a seven-day reduction in violence proposal.

“The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence. I am here today consulting with allies about this proposal and we had a series of productive bilateral and collective meetings about the path forward,” said Esper.

Stoltenberg, in an interview on Thursday with TOLOnews, said the only thing that can create conditions for a durable peace in Afghanistan is for Afghans to get together and hold talks.

“The only thing that can create lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan is Afghan negotiation, intra-Afghan talks,” Stoltenberg told TOLOnews.

When asked, Stoltenberg said there might be an extension of the seven-day reduction of violence, and that the US was consulting with NATO allies regarding such a move.

“Well, the idea is to have a period that can initiate talks and then make progress on a real, sustainable, comprehensive peace deal,” he said.

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