Taliban claims deal with US to be signed by end of February
Kabul (dpa) – An agreement between the Taliban and the United States will be signed by the end of February, the militia’s political spokesman based in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, told dpa on Monday.
US and Taliban representatives have been holding talks aimed at finding a political solution to the war in Afghanistan for more than a year and a half.
“According to the agreement, all foreign troops will leave Afghanistan,” Shaheen said in a message. “We will not allow anyone to use Afghanistan’s land against another country.”
Some 5,000 Taliban prisoners are to be released following the signing of the agreement and before the beginning of intra-Afghan negotiations, Shaheen added.
Washington has not confirmed the Taliban’s timeline nor the contents of the deal.
While speaking at the weekly council of ministers, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said on Monday that an agreement between the Taliban and US has been “finalized.”
The Taliban are at the same time expected to announce a seven-day “reduction in violence,” which the US is demanding of the militant group before signing any agreement.
Abdullah suggested said that the proposal for reduction in violence is a precondition for signing the agreement, saying that the Taliban must prove they are ready for a final agreement.
Shaheen did not comment on when those seven days might start.
On Saturday, US Secretary of Defence Mike Esper told reporters in Munich that at the end of the seven-day period, the US has to decide whether to move forward with the agreement or not.
On Friday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance is prepared to adjust its force level if the Taliban demonstrate “the ability to reduce violence and make real compromises.”
Amid the developments, violence continued unabated in Afghanistan.
At least 13 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a military checkpoint in the capital of northern Kunduz province on Monday, provincial councilors told dpa.
Four were killed on the initial attack and nine others were killed later when reinforcements deployed to the area were ambushed on the way, the officials added.
The Afghan army on Monday reported 20 offensive operations and 10 airstrikes in 15 provinces over the past 24 hours that killed 22 Taliban militants. The numbers could not be verified independently.
The US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalizad in a tweet on Sunday urged “all Afghans to seize the moment and end the misery of more than four decades of war,” adding that “success is not guaranteed.”
In a meeting with US lawmakers in Germany, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, referring to the recent developments in US-Taliban talks, said the potential threats and opportunities must be precisely evaluated, the Afghan presidential palace said on Sunday.
“We haven’t seen any notable developments and concrete anti-terrorism steps taken by Pakistan,” Ghani underlined according to the statement, adding that Taliban’s sanctuaries remain a dilemma that must be addressed.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday rejected accusations by an Afghan official that his country is harbouring militants, saying his government has done “everything” to facilitate the peace process.
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