US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said that the US and Taliban are expected to sign an agreement on February 29.
Pompeo said in a statement, “In recent weeks, in consultation with the Government of National Unity, US negotiators in Doha have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant and nationwide reduction in violence across Afghanistan”.
“Upon successful implementation of this understanding, the signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward. We are preparing for the signing to take place on February 29.”
According to reports, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the deal saying it would be “a critical test of the Taliban’s willingness and ability to reduce violence and contribute to peace in good faith.”
Taking to Twitter, NATO secretary-general said, “I welcome today’s announcement that an understanding has been reached on a significant reduction of violence across Afghanistan. This could pave the way for sustainable peace and ensure that the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists”
I welcome today’s announcement that an understanding has been reached on a significant reduction of violence across #Afghanistan. This could pave the way for a sustainable peace & ensure that the country is never again a safe haven for terrorists: https://t.co/LOvsUBQNMO pic.twitter.com/4zYVPhr4zs
— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) February 21, 2020
Last week, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani voiced cautious optimism about a partial truce agreed between the Taliban and US and said that a further announcement was expected in the coming 10 days.
Last Saturday, at least eight civilians, including a child were killed in an airstrike that targeted Taliban militants in Afghanistan.
Earlier, the Afghan government disclosed a list of delegates for the peace negotiating team once the US and the Taliban finalize their peace deal.
Last year, in September, Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation had said that the US and Taliban are “at the threshold of an agreement” that would reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together and negotiate.
On December 19, Khalilzad also said that the US and Taliban were approaching an important stage in the Afghan peace process.
But US President Donald Trump called an abrupt halt to the process after an American was killed in a Taliban attack in Kabul
The draft agreement ensured that over 5,000 US troops will withdraw from five American bases in the first 135 days after the signing of the deal.
Since the end of the NATO combat mission in January 2015, the US maintains one contingent within the framework of the new allied mission of advising Afghan troops and another for “anti-terrorist” operations.