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US, Taliban negotiate proposal for 7-day reduction in violence

IANS | February 14, 2020 12:53 PM

BRUSSELS:The US and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, said American Defence Secretary Mark Esper.
We've said all along the best, if not only, solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement," Xinhua news agency quoted Esper as saying on Thursday after a two-day NATO defence ministerial meeting here.

Without giving any clear timetable, Esper only said "progress has been on this front, and we have more to report on that soon".

He said that consultations have been made with US allies about the proposal, and bilateral and collective meetings were held to discuss the path forward.

Wrapping up the ministerial meeting, during which the situation in the war-torn country was high on the agenda, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reaffirmed the alliance's support for the peace process.

"We welcome any steps that can lead to the reduction of violence -- the Taliban have to show a real will and a real ability to deliver a reduction of violence on the ground," said Stoltenberg.

Details about when the partial truce was set to begin were not immediately clear, but a Taliban official told the media that the group would begin a "reduction of violence" on Friday.

Esper's announcement came two days after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Tuesday said that the Taliban has proposed a reduction of violence in the country, a breakthrough towards an agreement in peace negotiations with the US which had stalled for several months.

The proposal, which has been one of the main demands of US negotiators and the government in Kabul, was revealed by the Afghan leader after a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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

Large territories of the country continue to be under Taliban control.

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