Taliban says will sign a peace deal with United States
If all goes as planned, the Taliban and United States will sign a peace deal this month.
By Stepanie Milbourn | Feb 24, 2020 | Print-friendly

A Taliban spokesperson said Monday that the organization has finalized a peace deal with the United States and is prepared to sign it at the end of this month. If this occurs, it would bring a formal end to the Taliban's 19 years of war against the occupying forces of the United States and its allies.

The spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, told Afghan television 1TV that the two parties have reached agreement on the deal. But the actual signing is not guaranteed to happen, according to Afghan Chied Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Abdullah said that it is contingent upon the success of a proposed seven-day period of reduced violence.

"The agreement between the Taliban and U.S. has been finalized and the signing of the agreement is based on the reduction in violence over seven days and then it will continue," Abdullah said. "It is also an opportunity for the opposite side to show that they want peace in the country."

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the period of reduced violence is the first step of any lasting peace deal. He also said that the U.S. military plans to cut the number of troops deployed in the country to 8,600 from the current level of between 12,000 and 13,000. But this reduction will also be "conditions based," he added.

The Taliban has been negotiating unilaterally with the United States on ending the war since mid-2018. It has refused to talk directly with the Afghan government.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that his government would evaluate any forthcoming peace deal and warned that the Taliban could be using the peace deal to undermine the U.S. presence and that the Islamist force will resume fighting as soon as more U.S. troops have departed. But Ghani added that he will give the deal a chance to succeed.