According to U.S. and Afghan officials, the coalition led by the United States, along with the Afghan forces and the Taliban militia will begin a seven-day reduction in violence starting from Saturday midnight local time.
The cease-fire has the potential to significantly reduce the U.S. troops in Afghanistan who are somewhere around 12,000 in numbers.
Early on Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement in which he said:
‘’We are preparing for the signing of the agreement to take place on February 29. Intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon thereafter and will build on this fundamental step to deliver in a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan.’’
The spokesperson for the Afghan National Security Adviser, Javid Faisal, was speaking to Reuters on the subject as he said:
‘’Based on the plan, the reduction in violence will start between the Taliban and international and Afghan security forces for one week. We hope it is extended for a longer time and opens the way for a cease-fire and intra-Afghan talks.’’
The secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, called the deal ‘’a critical test of the Taliban’s willingness and ability to reduce violence, and contribute to peace in good faith.’’
‘’This could pave the way for negotiations among Afghans, sustainable peace, and ensuring the country is never again safe heaven for terrorists,’’ said Stoltenberg in a statement.
According to recent reports, the Taliban had previously refused to talk directly to the Kabul government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, which they denounced as a U.S. puppet.
Javid Faisal also said that the Afghan security forces would continue normal operations against other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State, and would respond in the Taliban violated the RIV agreement.
‘’Local government and security officials have been instructed by the president himself on how to follow the regulations agreed upon for the RIV period,’’ said Faisal as he talked with Reuters.