The Taliban will implement a seven-day “reduction of violence” starting Friday evening that will lead to a peace agreement with the U.S., the Associated Press reported.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo released a statement on Friday saying the U.S. and Taliban would sign a peace agreement on February 29 in Doha, Qatar. That agreement would eventually allow for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“The United States and the Taliban have been engaged in extensive talks to facilitate a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan, reduce United States and Allied Forces presence, and ensure that no terrorist group ever uses Afghan soil to threaten the United States and her allies,” Pompeo’s statement reads. “We are preparing for the [peace agreement] signing to take place on February 29. Intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon thereafter, and will build on this fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan.”
The Trump administration has long sought a ceasefire with the Taliban that would allow American troops to leave the country. However, negotiations have frequently stalled due to Taliban attacks on U.S. forces.
In early February, CNN reported that the administration was seeking to implement the “reduction of violence” deal, but that administration officials were skeptical the plan would actually work. Those officials feared the Taliban would not be able to hold all of its members to abide by the agreement, because the command structure of the organization is loose in some areas of the country.
U.S. officials also fear that Taliban fighters disillusioned with the agreement will join ISIS Khorasan, the group’s Afghan affiliate.