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U.S., Taliban Reach Deal On Reducing Violence In Afghanistan -- U.S. Official

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (center) shakes hands with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper looks on at the Munich Security Conference on February 14.

The United States and the Taliban have reached a deal on a weeklong reduction of violence that could lead to U.S. troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, a senior U.S. official has said.

The official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich on February 14 that the deal to achieve a seven-day reduction in violence would take effect "very soon."

However, he told reporters that the agreement on a week of reduced violence had yet to begin.

The remarks came after a meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the conference.

U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and General Scott Miller, the commander of the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan, also attended the meeting.

The U.S. official said the Taliban had committed to stopping roadside and suicide bombings as well as rocket attacks.

The official said the deal was "very specific" and covered the entire country, including Afghan forces.

The official said the United States would monitor the truce and determine if there were any violations.

"It was violence that derailed the signing of the agreement in September," the official said, adding, "now we have an agreement on the reduction of violence. And, should the Talibs implement what they've committed to doing, we will move forward with the agreement."

It would then be followed by the signing of a deal that would launch inter-Afghan peace negotiations within 10 days, the official said.

The remarks came a day after U.S. President Donald Trump said there were promising signs that the United States would reach a peace deal with the Taliban by the end of this month.

Chances are "good" for the agreement to be sealed, Trump said on February 13.

Earlier on February 13, Esper told journalists in Brussels that both sides had negotiated a "proposal" for a week-long scaling-down in violence.

He said a drawdown of troops and further negotiations with the militants would be “conditions-based” and begin after a decline in violence.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

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