Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Afghan Taliban ready for 10-day ceasefire: report

KABUL/PESHAWAR: Sources in the Afghan Taliban on Friday revealed that they are ready to implement a 10-day ceasefire with US troops, reduce their hostilities with Afghan forces and discussions with Afghan government if it reaches an agreement with US negotiators in talks in Doha.

If an agreement is reached, the move could revive hopes for a long-term solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

Taliban and US negotiation teams met on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the signing of a peace deal, according to a spokesman for the Taliban office in Doha, Qatar.

The talks between the two sides were “useful” and would continue for a few days, the spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, said in a tweet early on Friday.

Also read: Pakistan welcomes Taliban’s ‘willingness to reduce violence’ in Afghanistan

The stop-start talks between Taliban and the United States to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan were called off in September by US President Donald Trump after an American soldier was killed in an attack by the Taliban.

Talks that had resumed after Trump visited US troops in Afghanistan in November were put on “pause” again the following month after the Taliban launched a suicide attack on a US base outside Kabul killing two civilians.

However, two sources close to the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that the Taliban’s top leadership had discussed and agreed to implement a 10-day ceasefire with US troops once an agreement was signed with US officials in Doha, and “reduce” attacks against the Afghan government as well.

A senior Taliban commander said: “The US wanted us to announce a ceasefire during the peace talks which we had rejected. Our shura (council) has agreed to a ceasefire the day the peace accord is signed.”

Also read: Taliban say ‘no ceasefire plans’ for Afghanistan

Once an agreement for the ceasefire is in place, the Taliban and Afghan government could meet face to face in Germany, said the commander. Previously, the Taliban had refused to engage in talks with the Afghan government.

“Our representatives have been meeting with the US negotiation team in Doha and they persistently demanded a ceasefire which we had declined due to some issues,” the Taliban commander said. “Now most of our reservations have been addressed.”

Another source close to the talks confirmed the commander’s version of events.

Also read: Afghan rivals resume peace talks in Doha

A date for the signing of the agreement with the US side has not been fixed, but the Taliban commander said he expected it to be “very soon.”

Both sources asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.