Defense Secretary Esper discusses potential 7-day deal with Taliban

The United States and the Taliban negotiate a reduction of violence in 7 days Pentagon | News

President Donald Trump is gambling that direct engagement with the Taliban, which once provided a safe haven in Afghanistan for the al-Qaeda terrorist group, will help him meet a pledge when running for office in 2016 to get America out of what he called "endless wars".

"The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence", Esper said in Brussels Thursday after a meeting of defense chiefs from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The U.S. and the Taliban may soon reach an agreement aimed at ending the 19-year war in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said.

But they have been fraught with challenges, with Mr Trump declaring the talks "dead" in September.

"So it will be a continual evaluative process as we move forward, if we go forward".

"We've said all along that the best.solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement", he added.

A deal would commit Taliban insurgents to curb attacks in Afghanistan and the reduce its troop presence there.

Finally, the U.S. -Taliban talks themselves have been hard, but they are nothing compared to the complex peace, reconciliation and power-sharing negotiations to come between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghan political stakeholders.

Washington's top negotiator announced in September that the U.S. would withdraw 5,400 troops from Afghanistan within 20 weeks as part of a deal agreed "in principle" with Taliban militants.

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.

"The reason behind our military pressure is to force the enemy to come and sit at the negotiation table". Some 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan after the USA intervention to oust the Taliban in 2001.

In the months since the deal collapsed, there has so far been no let-up in fighting.

On Wednesday, the Taliban issued an ultimatum to Washington after weeks of talks with a United States peace envoy, demanding a reply to their offer of a seven-day reduction of violence, or they would walk away from the negotiating table. The Taliban has warned that the USA would "lose the most" by cancelling the talks.



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