Taliban Deal Hinges on Diminishing Violence. It Could Work Like This

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The Taliban had issued an ultimatum to Washington after weeks of talks with a US peace envoy, demanding a reply on their offer of a seven-day reduction of violence in Afghanistan, or they would walk away from the negotiating table, two Taliban officials said Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters traveling with him to Munich, where he will attend a security conference, Mr Pompeo expressed both optimism and caution.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday welcomed the "notable progress" made in ongoing peace talks between the US and the Taliban.

Mr. Trump claimed he canceled the September deal, which reportedly included a Camp David summit with leaders of the Taliban and the Kabul government, after a terrorist attack claimed the life of a US service member in Afghanistan. Trump has said it's time for American troops to come home, but a withdrawal of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or US forces could result in further instability and violence in the troubled country.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (R) meets US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, Pakistan, on January 31, 2020.

MUNICH-A tentative peace pact between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan will "very soon" be put into place in what USA officials are describing as a landmark move that could pave the way for a significant reduction in violence across the war-torn country.

The weeklong reduction in violence, officials say, will pave the way for comprehensive talks on a peace agreement that could finally end the almost two-decade-long war. "The leadership should decide to either make it happen or stop the peace process forever and give importance to the battlefield", said a second Taliban commander.

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Sources say the partial truce could lead to the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal that would see the US pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan, in return for which the Taliban would provide various security guarantees and launch eventual talks with the Kabul government. "I think there's a good chance that we'll have a deal and we'll see", Trump said, more than 18 years after the U.S. invaded to overthrow the then Taliban government in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "And if we can get there and we can hold that posture for a while, we may well be able to begin the real serious discussion, which is all the Afghans sitting at a table, finding a true reconciliation path forward - a hard set of conversations, but one that's long overdue".

During a surprise visit to a United States military base in Afghanistan in November, Trump said the Taliban "wants to make a deal".

But a final deal, and an accompanying USA withdrawal, are hardly sure things.

The final details were hammered out in recent days by US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.

US officials have brushed aside claims that a Taliban ultimatum forced their hand. "We're going to know over the next two weeks".

Afghanistan has been ravaged by war since the 2001 invasion of a US-led coalition that brought down the Taliban regime.

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