US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that there has been a “pretty important breakthrough” in peace talks with the Taliban in recent days.
Earlier, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that they had “negotiated a proposal” for a week-long reduction in violence. The two sides have long been engaged in negotiations aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.
But they have been fraught with challenges. President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead” in September.
On Thursday, Pompeo said the US president had given the go-ahead for further talks. He hailed recent progress, but said the negotiations were complicated and that a peace deal had not yet been reached, the BBC reported.
“We hope we can get to the place where we can get a significant reduction in violence, not only on a piece of paper,” he said.
“If we can get there and we can hold that posture for a while, we may well be able to begin the serious discussion which is all the Afghans sitting at a table finding a true reconciliation”, he further added.
On January 19, Afghanistan’s government spokesman said that “all allies” of the country, as well as the “people of Afghanistan,” were “insisting on a ceasefire” before the next step in the peace process.
Earlier, the Afghan government disclosed a list of delegates for the peace negotiating team once the US and the Taliban finalize their peace deal.
Last year, in September, Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation had said that the US and Taliban are “at the threshold of an agreement” that would reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together and negotiate.
On December 19, Khalilzad also said that the US and Taliban were approaching an important stage in the Afghan peace process.
In August, peace talks between Washington and the Taliban had to reach a deal on the withdrawal of thousands of American troops collapsed after President Trump cited an attack that killed a US soldier as his reason for pulling out of negotiations. The talks did not include the Afghan government.
The Taliban had never agreed to end their violent campaign against Afghan and foreign forces while negotiations were taking place. Sixteen US troops have been killed this year.
In 2001, US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan because the militants had given safe haven to the Al-Qaeda network to plan the attacks on the US on September 11.