U.S., Taliban reach violence reduction pact that could lead to U.S. withdrawal

MUNICH (Reuters) – The United States has reached agreement with the Taliban on a weeklong reduction of violence that could lead to a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, a senior administration official said on Friday.

The official told reporters at a security conference in Munich the seven-day reduction of violence agreement had yet to begin.

The announcement followed a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the conference on Friday. It came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said there was a “good chance” of reaching an agreement with the Taliban on a reduction of U.S. troops nearly two decades after the U.S.-led invasion.

An agreement that leads to a major U.S. troop withdrawal could be a political boost for Trump, who has repeatedly promised to stop “endless wars” as he seeks re-election in November.

The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that the reduction of violence agreement covers the entire country and also applies to Afghan forces, even though the Afghan government has been excluded from the talks between the United States and Taliban in Qatar.

“The reduction of violence agreement is very specific. It’s nationwide and it includes the Afghans,” said the official, adding that it applies to “everything. Roadside bombs, suicide bombs, rocket attacks is all written out.”

Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Mary Milliken and Tom Brown


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