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Taliban propose brief Afghan ceasefire to the US, say sources

Taliban propose brief Afghan ceasefire to the US, say sources

AFP
Kabul
The Taliban have offered a brief ceasefire to the US, two insurgent sources said on Thursday, a move which could allow for the resumption of talks seeking a deal for Washington to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country in return for security guarantees, after a near two-decade fight.
“It is an offer for a ceasefire either for seven or 10 days,” a senior Taliban official who requested anonymity told AFP, adding that the offer was made to US negotiators in Doha.
“It has been finalised and given to the Americans. It is going to pave the way for an agreement.” A second insurgent source, based in Pakistan, confirmed that the offer had been handed to the US.
The Taliban have yet to release an official statement, and Washington has not said whether it has received any offer from the insurgents or what its response will be.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year, and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing Taliban violence.
The insurgents’ offer, if accepted by the Americans, could see the negotiations begin again.
Graeme Smith, a senior consultant with International Crisis Group, called the reports of a temporary ceasefire a “positive signal”, saying a recent reduction of attacks in urban centres has added weight to the process.
“The Taliban have been sending an even bigger message with their actions in recent months. Two months have passed with no major Taliban attacks in any urban zone. That pause in attacks on cities is unprecedented over the last dozen years,” said Smith.
The Taliban have only observed one ceasefire in their nearly two decade fight with the US, when the insurgents agreed to a brief three-day truce in June 2018 to mark Eid, the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It saw Taliban fighters celebrating with ordinary Afghans in the streets.
The claim from the insurgent sources came hours after Pakistan’s foreign minister said the Taliban has shown “a willingness” to reduce violence.
“Today, positive progress has been made, the Taliban have shown their willingness to reduce the violence, which was a demand... it’s a step towards the peace agreement,” said Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a video statement.
He gave no further details.