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Pompeo expects US-Taliban agreement to be signed on February 29

21 Feb 2020 TheHill

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said that the United States has reached an “understanding” with the Taliban on a reduction of violence across Afghanistan, paving the way for a peace agreement between both sides to be signed on February 29.

Pompeo said in a statement early in the morning that, after discussions in Doha, Qatar, U.S. and Taliban representatives “have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant and nationwide reduction in violence across Afghanistan.”

“Upon a successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward. We are preparing for the signing to take place on February 29,” Pompeo said.

“Intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon thereafter, and will build on this fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan,” the secretary of state continued. “The only way to achieve a sustainable peace in Afghanistan is for Afghans to come together and agree on the way forward.”

Pompeo said the deal would come after the reduction of violence begins just after midnight Friday.

The announcement comes nearly a year after U.S. and Taliban negotiators began talks aimed at securing a political settlement to ends the conflict in Afghanistan. The effort has been one of President Trump’s major foreign policy priorities. U.S.-Taliban negotiations were briefly suspended last fall when Trump canceled a plan to bring the Taliban to Camp David to continue negotiations.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien indicated in a speech earlier this month that the Trump administration was close to securing a deal with the Taliban.

Pompeo acknowledged Friday that “challenges remain” in bringing the Afghan government, which has refused to take part in the peace talks, to the table, but he said the latest progress represented “real opportunity and called on “all Afghans to seize this moment.” 

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