This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry says a reduction in violence agreed to between Taliban fighters and the United States is due to start within the next five days.
The announcement on February 18 comes a day after Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah told a meeting of government ministers that the Taliban had agreed to a seven-day reduction of violence ahead of a peace deal with the United States that had been “finalized” a week earlier and may be signed as soon as February 29.
A Taliban spokesman based in Qatar, where peace talks with U.S. negotiators have been under way, also said an agreement had been reached and “will be signed” before the end of February.
“According to the agreement, all foreign troops will leave Afghanistan,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on February 17. “We will not allow anyone to use Afghanistan’s land [to launch attacks] against another country.”
Some 5,000 Taliban prisoners are to be released following the signing of the agreement and before the beginning of intra-Afghan negotiations, Shaheen said.
The New York Times reported last week that U.S. President Donald Trump had given his “conditional” approval of a peace deal.
The newspaper reported that Washington wants the Taliban negotiators in Qatar to prove they hold sway over Taliban fighters in remote parts of Afghanistan by ordering the seven-day reduction in militant violence before the peace deal is formally signed.