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Afghan peace process: Taliban express ‘willingness to reduce violence’, Pakistan says

Afghan peace process: Taliban express ‘willingness to reduce violence’, Pakistan says

WASHINGTON: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Thursday that the Taliban had expressed a “willingness to reduce violence”, expressing the hope that an agreement between the militants and the US will see peace prevail in Afghanistan. 

In a video message shared from the official Instagram account of the foreign office, Qureshi said “a step towards a peace agreement” had been taken today. 

“Today, a positive development has surfaced [regarding the Afghan peace process],” said the foreign minister in a video message. “The Taliban have expressed their willingness to the demand of reduction in violence. In my opinion, this is a step towards a peace agreement,” he added. 

Qureshi said Pakistan had played a responsible part in ensuring peace prevailed in the region. He said Islamabad wished for peace to prevail in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. 

Taliban offer cease-fire to the US for seven or 10 days, says international media

According to the AFP, two insurgent sources said the Taliban have offered a cease-fire to the US, a move that could allow for the resumption of talks seeking a deal for Washington to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Both countries have been fighting a war for the past 18 years that has seen thousands killed, injured and displaced in the country.

After nearly two decades of fighting, Washington wants to withdraw US troops from the country but not without security guarantees. For weeks it has been calling on the Taliban to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country.

“It is an offer for a ceasefire either for seven or 10 days,” a senior Taliban official who requested anonymity told AFP, adding that the offer was made to US negotiators in Doha.

“It has been finalised and given to the Americans. It is going to pave the way for an agreement.”

A second insurgent source confirmed to the AFP that the offer had been handed to the US.

The Taliban have yet to release an official statement and Washington has not said whether it has received any offer from the insurgents or what its response will be.

The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when US President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing Taliban violence.

Talks were later restarted between the two sides in December in Qatar but were paused again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the US. 

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