By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: A seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, negotiated by the US and the Taliban, is set to begin Friday night local time, the US State Department announced yesterday.
“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan. This is an important step on a long road to peace, and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Friday morning.
The US is aiming for a peace deal to help execute US President Donald Trump’s desire to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. The first step is expected to reduce the current level of troops from 12-13,000 to 8,600.
The ceasefire period will allow the US-Taliban agreement to be signed by February 29, as long as the reduction in violence is successful.
Meanwhile, the National Security Council on Friday also confirmed that the seven-day period of the reduction in violence will begin sharply at 12am-midnight, the morning of Saturday, February 22.
The NSC spokesman Jawed Faisal said that Afghan forces are ready to implement the reduction in violence plan.
“Required guidance has been given to Afghan forces in this respect,” Faisal said. “It begins on Saturday at 12am.” He added: “We hope that the Taliban will reduce violence as per the commitments.”
There will be no ANDSF offensives under a reduction in violence plan, according to the sources, who said there will also be no Resolute Support offensive operations – but they will support their Afghan counterparts if they are attacked.
A US-Afghan monitoring team will observe the Taliban activity during the seven-day period, according to sources.
Acting Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi told media that government operations will be stopped on Saturday, although the Afghan forces will remain ready to respond if the Taliban violates the agreement. Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Thursday that President Ghani, during a meeting with US special envoy Khalilzad – who is in Kabul for the past three days – discussed issues related to the Afghan peace as well as the details on the “significant reduction in violence.”