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US, Taliban Could Sign peace Deal in February

Wednesday 12 February 2020

KABUL/DUBAI (Reuters) — A U.S.-Taliban peace deal could be signed this month if the Taliban significantly reduces violence, which could lead to an eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, two Afghan government sources and a Western diplomat said on Wednesday.

The tentative timeline shared by sources came a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said there had been a possible breakthrough in U.S.-Taliban talks in Qatar.

The talks had been deadlocked in part over a U.S. demand that the insurgents agree to sharply reduce violence as part of any American troop withdrawal accord.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar’s capital, Doha, said progress has been made, but refused to share further details.

Doha has been the venue for talks between the warring sides since 2018 even as fighting has continued across the country, killing hundreds of civilians and soldiers as the Taliban have expanded their territorial control.

A third Afghan official said the United States has agreed in principle to a deal, but that it would not be signed until the Taliban could demonstrate a reduction in violence (RIV). The deal could be signed as soon as this month, the official said, requesting anonymity.

A Western diplomat in Kabul said U.S. negotiators were working on idea that the Taliban should agree on a reduction in violence for at least 10 days with no major violation. “It is after those 10 days of RIV that both sides can hold talks and firm up plans to hold intra-Afghan dialogue,” said the source, on condition of anonymity.


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