Taliban council agrees to cease-fire in Afghanistan

Taliban fighters stand guard in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan. (AP)

The Taliban said on Sunday they have agreed to a temporary cease-fire nationwide. It provides a window during which a peace agreement with the United States could be signed.

A peace deal would allow Washington to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America’s longest. The US wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not used as a base by terrorist groups. The US currently has an estimated 12,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The Taliban chief must approve the agreement but that is expected. The duration of the cease-fire was not specified but it is being suggested it would last for 10 days.

Four members of the Taliban negotiating team met for a week with the ruling council before they agreed on the brief cease fire.

The Taliban officials familiar with the negotiations spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

A key pillar of the agreement, which the US and Taliban have been hammering out for more than a year, is direct negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict.

Those intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to be held within two weeks of the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal. They will likely decide what a post-war Afghanistan will look like, and what role the Taliban will play. The negotiations would cover a wide range of subjects, such as the rights of women, free speech and the fate of the the tens of thousands of Taliban fighters, as well as the heavily armed militias belonging to Afghanistan’s warlords who have amassed wealth and power since the Taliban’s ouster.
The temporary cease-fire had been proposed by US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad during the last round of talks. 

Meanwhile, a Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan killed at least 17 local militiamen, an Afghan official said on Sunday.

Local Afghan militias commonly operate in remote areas, and are under the command of either the defense or interior ministries.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56
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