US-TALIBAN DEAL TO BE SIGNED ON FEB. 29: POMPEO
The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement on Friday said the deal between the United States and the Taliban – about which the two sides have agreed after more than 10 rounds of talks led by chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad – will be signed on February 29.
“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 or our allies,” Pompeo said in the statement.
He added: “In recent weeks, in consultation with the Government of National Unity, US negotiators in Doha have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant and nationwide reduction in violence across Afghanistan. Upon a successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward.”
“We are preparing for the signing to take place on February 29,” he said.
According to him, 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 only way to achieve a sustainable peace in Afghanistan is for Afghans to come together and agree on the way forward,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo says that challenges remain, but the progress made in Doha provides hope and represents a real opportunity.
He says the United States calls on all Afghans to seize this moment.
According to the Afghan National Security Council (NSC), the seven-day period of the reduction in violence – which the US and the Taliban have agreed as a pre-condition to signing a peace deal – will begin sharply at 12am-midnight, the morning of Saturday, February 22.
The NSC spokesman Jawed Faisal said that Afghan forces are ready to implement the reduction in violence plan.
Meanwhile, the Taliban in a statement also confirmed the US-Taliban deal will be signed on Feb. 29.
The group said that the two sides – the US and the Taliban – are preparing the required security situation ahead of the signing of the deal and that representatives of different countries, and the United Nations, will be invited for the event.
Also, preparations will be made for a prisoner release, the grounds for which will be provided by the different sides for the intra-Afghan talks, and ultimately the way will be opened for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, the Taliban statement said.