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Taliban Announces Peace Agreement with U.S. Will Be Signed by End of February

Feb. 18, 2020 (EIRNS)—For the first time, Taliban leader Abdul Salam Hanafi said yesterday that a peace deal with the United States will be signed by the end of the month. Also, Afghanistan’s acting Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi told a gathering of provincial police commanders in Kabul today the “reduction in violence” period “will begin in the next five days, which will be based on the negotiations between the U.S. and the Taliban,” Reuters reported today. Some Afghan officials said that the reduced violence would be countrywide and that all parties to the conflict would halt planned offensive operations, according to the Washington Post Feb. 17.

Meanwhile, the Afghan government has begun work on forming the peace-negotiating team with the Taliban, said Waheed Omar, director general of the president’s office of public and strategic affairs, today. “The government will determine authorities of the negotiating team. The team will have about 15 members,” Omar said. The peace negotiating team will handle the technical aspects of the talks and the final decision will be taken in Kabul, he said, reported Afghanistan’s TOLONews.

In his first public comments, yesterday, since the peace talks breakthrough, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief negotiator with the Taliban, said he’s “cautiously optimistic,” according to the Washington Post. Khalilzad, speaking from Islamabad, Pakistan, said that, while he had received security guarantees from both the Afghan government and the Taliban, the potential remained for “spoilers” both inside Afghanistan and outside the country to upend months of diplomatic progress. “I believe that, maybe better than any time in the last couple of decades, there is an opportunity for peace,” he said, on Feb. 17, where he was attending a United Nations conference in Islamabad on refugees, marking 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan.

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