US, Taliban to sign peace agreement on Feb 29

Kabul: A seven-day long “reduction in violence” in Afghanistan, which if successful would lead to the signing of US-Taliban peace accord later this month, will begin on Friday midnight (local time).

Multiple reports said the agreement negotiated between the US and Taliban could secure a peace deal that would see the eventual withdrawal of American troops from war-torn Afghanistan, as desired by US President Donald Trump.

“We are preparing for the signing to take place on February 29,” TOLOnews quoted US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as saying.

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The top American diplomat, in a tweet, also said that an understanding has been reached with the Taliban on “significant reduction” in violence across Afghanistan.

“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afghanistan. This is an important step on a long road to peace, and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity,” tweeted Pompeo.

Xinhua cited Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesperson, as saying on Twitter that following lengthy negotiations “both parties agreed to sign the finalised accord in the presence of international observers” on February 29.

The development which was welcomed by NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, comes days after incumbent Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was declared as the winner of polls conducted in September last year.

According to Xinhua, the death toll of US service members has surpassed 2,400 since the United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

US and Taliban negotiators have been meeting in Doha since 2018 even though fighting has raged in war-torn Afghanistan which has led to the death of thousands of civilians as the group has expanded its territorial control.

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