WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has achieved an first deal with the Taliban for a reduction in the deadly assaults that have ravaged Afghanistan for years, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Friday.
“The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a 7-day reduction in violence,” claimed Esper, who is in Germany for an worldwide security meeting.
The seven-day clock has not started out ticking, but Trump administration officials hope it will direct to a broader Afghanistan peace deal and a considerable withdrawal of U.S. troops.
“We have mentioned all together that the finest, if not only, alternative in Afghanistan is a political settlement,” Esper reported. “Development has been manufactured on this entrance, and we’ll have much more to report on that before long, I hope.”
There are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan whose mission is split in between coaching Afghan safety forces and conducting counterterrorism missions. The American armed forces existence there dates to 2001 when U.S. troops aided topple the hardline Taliban governing administration that experienced sheltered al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“It is our watch that seven times, for now, is enough,” Esper mentioned. But he cautioned that the next steps will be based mostly on ailments inside of Afghanistan, signaling the truce could go awry if Taliban or its allies violate the terms.
“It will be a continual evaluative approach, as we go forward – if we go forward,” Esper stated.
A senior U.S. formal stated the seven-working day truce will acquire result “very soon” and could guide to the withdrawal of an unspecified selection of American troops from Afghanistan. The official claimed the “reduction in violence” settlement will be followed by peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities.
The formal, who was not authorized to publicly focus on the subject and spoke on the ailment of anonymity, said the Taliban had fully commited to a halt in roadside and suicide bombings, as perfectly as rocket attacks.
A Taliban formal acquainted with the offer stated that the next settlement would be signed on Feb. 29 and that the inter-Afghan dialogue would start on March 10. The officials stated Germany and Norway have supplied to host the talks but there has been no conclusion on the venue.
That Taliban formal added that the withdrawal of foreign troops would get started steadily and would be phased more than 18 months.
Friday’s announcement is no assurance of peace in the war-torn nation. In September, U.S. negotiators hailed a breakthrough in talks only to see hope for peace dissipate soon after the Taliban claimed accountability for a vehicle bomb assault that killed an American. President Donald Trump then scrapped a prepared conference with the Taliban at Camp David.
But Trump, traveling to troops at Bagram air base north of Kabul, introduced in November that he experienced restarted peace talks.
In 2019, the U.S.-led coalition dropped a lot more bombs in Afghanistan than in any other calendar year of the war, together with 2011, the 12 months of peak U.S. involvement with 100,000 troops on the ground. The air marketing campaign was meant in component to power the Taliban to negotiate.
A lot more than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed there, and extra than 20,000 wounded in the preventing. Final 12 months, the Pentagon approximated the cost to taxpayers for the war there at $737 billion.
A withdrawal of American forces also would possible get a number of months and involve that some forces keep on being to safeguard the embassy and other U.S. interests.
U.S. officers have not publicly spelled out their timetable for an original drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but the expectation is that a reduction from the current total of about 12,000 to somewhere around 8,600 will begin after the signing of a U.S.-Taliban offer.
The new developments arrived as Esper and Secretary of Point out Mike Pompeo satisfied Friday in Munich with Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani. They spoke on the sidelines of an international safety forum in Munich.
A truce had been broadly predicted, and Trump agreed in theory to the offer, according to U.S. officers.
The last information were hammered out in new days by U.S. unique envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar. Khalilzad was in Munich and attended Pompeo and Esper’s assembly as did Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of the U.S.-led global pressure in Afghanistan.
Contributing: The Linked Press