US-Taliban breakthrough appears closer as Afghan President Ghani reports progress

AFP Kabul, Afghanistan Feb 12, 2020, 03.48 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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Washington and the Taliban have been locked in gruelling talks that have stretched over more than a year for an agreement that would see the US pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in a bid to end America's longest war.

The US and the Taliban appeared closer Wednesday to sealing a deal for an American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reported "notable progress" in negotiations and a senior Taliban official said violence could be slashed in the coming days.

Washington and the Taliban have been locked in gruelling talks that have stretched over more than a year for an agreement that would see the US pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in a bid to end America's longest war.

In return, the Taliban would provide various security guarantees and launch eventual talks with the Kabul government.

Watch: US-Taliban talks appear closer to pact after marathon negotiations in Qatar

Ghani said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had called him to inform him of developments in the talks, which are taking place in Doha.

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A Taliban source in Pakistan told AFP that negotiators would meet again Wednesday in Doha, while in Afghanistan another senior Taliban official suggested the group was poised to reduce attacks.

"If the deal is signed, the Taliban will start a reduction of violence on Friday," the official in Afghanistan said, adding that the insurgents were working to bring any Taliban splinter groups into line.

Citing Afghan and US officials, the New York Times reported that US President Donald Trump had given conditional approval to a deal with the Taliban.

The two foes have been on the brink of a breakthrough before, with a deal all but complete in September before Trump nixed it at the last moment amid continued Taliban violence.