US says Taliban has agreed to reduction in violence in Afghanistan

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The United Nations on Friday expressed optimism that peace talks between the U.S. President Donald Trump administration and the Taliban militant group of Afghanistan marked a "notable step" towards ending decades of conflict there. They spoke on the sidelines of an global security forum in Munich.

The United States and Taliban reached an agreement on Friday to reduce violence, which could open the door to the two sides finalizing the larger deal reached previous year, per a senior State Department official.

The breakthrough comes 18 months after USA officials began backroom negotiations with the radical Islamist group in an effort to wind down the longest military campaign in American history and bring home more than 12,000 US troops still in the country.

The U.S. military will be responsible for monitoring reduction in violence.

AP reported that if violence subsided, it would lead to an agreement being signed between the United States and the Taliban, followed by, within 10 days, all-Afghan negotiations to establish a road map for the political future of a postwar Afghanistan.

One senior Afghan official briefed about the talks said the expectation was that following the one-week test interval, there shouldn't be a return to further strikes, and that the situation may perhaps more closely resemble a cease-fire.

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NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has urged the Taliban to show "real will" to reduce violence in Afghanistan. "And if we can get there and we can hold that posture for a while, we may well be able to begin the real serious discussion, which is all the Afghans sitting at a table, finding a true reconciliation path forward - a hard set of conversations, but one that's long overdue".

Khalilzad was in Munich and attended Pompeo and Esper's meeting as did Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of the US-led global force in Afghanistan.

The final details were hammered out in recent days by US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.

US troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan August 7, 2018. "And I think peace deserves a chance, but it will demand all parties to comply with their obligations, if we move forward".

Between the signing of the U.S. -Taliban deal and starting of intra-Afghan negotiations, the insurgent group and Afghan authorities would be expected to release each other's prisoners. Subsequently, the United States troops will purportedly prepare to withdraw from Afghanistan, after nearly two decades, in a phased manner. 'I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them totally innocent'.

It led to moving scenes such as Afghans sharing ice cream with Taliban fighters and snapping selfies.

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