US and Taliban peace talks make progress toward ending war in Afghanistan
The agreement will reportedly provide for a communication mechanism to prevent incidents.
An agreement between the United States and the Taliban aimed at de-escalating the war in Afghanistan is likely to include a communication mechanism to prevent military miscalculations during this period, a US official told Voice of America..
The communication mechanism will serve the same purpose as the mechanism created by US and Russian forces in Syria..
Several sources told VOA that an agreement to reduce violence is scheduled for Saturday. According to a senior Defense Ministry official, the US military will retain the right to self-defense and will continue counterterrorism operations and training missions for the duration of the agreement..
If the agreement holds, a signing ceremony will take place in Doha on February 29, Taliban sources said. Pakistani authorities report that Pakistani, Russian and EU foreign ministers are invited to the ceremony.
US officials say the successful implementation of the Temporary Violence Ease Agreement will pave the way for a comprehensive ceasefire that could end the longest conflict in US history and bring back some of the US troops stationed in Afghanistan. Intra-Afghan dialogue between the government and the Taliban is expected to begin after the agreement is concluded.
“If we decide to move on, if all parties fulfill their obligations under this agreement, then we will begin to discuss the next stage,” US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters at the Munich Security Conference.
The war in Afghanistan killed more than 2,400 American troops and cost Washington $ 1 trillion.
The term “violence reduction” has caused some confusion in the Afghan government, which is wondering why the parties do not call it a ceasefire agreement.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sedik Sedikki told reporters in Kabul earlier this month that the desired effect will not be achieved unless the Taliban is committed to a full ceasefire..
“Does this mean that not 10, but 5 people will die? Or that there will be not 10, but 5 attacks per day? ” – said Sedikki.
However, President Ghani, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, expressed cautious optimism about a partial ceasefire between the Taliban and the United States. According to him, he shares the position of Washington.
Some former Taliban officials, including former Deputy Justice Minister Jalaluddin Shinwari, point out that a complete ceasefire runs the risk of a split within the Taliban..
The Taliban insist that they will only negotiate with the Afghan government as one of the factions active in the country, and not as with the government. Kabul says it will negotiate as a legitimately elected government..
Meanwhile, there is a tense political struggle in Afghanistan between Ghani and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah..
Afghanistan’s Central Election Commission said Ghani received 50.64 percent of the vote and declared him the winner of the country’s fourth presidential election since 2001.
Abdullah Abdullah, who has shared power with Ghani since the 2014 elections under the Government of National Unity, called the results rigged and promised to form his own government soon..
Taliban also called election results rigged and Ghani’s victory illegal.
The group said in a statement that no elections under conditions of “foreign occupation” will help resolve the conflict in the country..