BREAKING: The U.S. Begins Implementing First Steps Toward Officially Ending the War in Afghanistan

Posted: Feb 21, 2020 6:00 AM
BREAKING: The U.S. Begins Implementing First Steps Toward Officially Ending the War in Afghanistan

Source: (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The United States has reached an agreement with the Taliban and will move forward to a long-term ceasefire if violence reduction requirements are met over the next seven days. The State Department confirmed the news onboard Secretary Pompeo's flight to Oman Friday afternoon. 

"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," the State Department released in a statement. 

The clock for the seven day reduction in violence (RIV) period will begin Friday night Afghanistan time. If the threshold of violence reduction is met, the United States and the Taliban will move forward with a broader, permanent agreement. The United States military will monitor the period. Very specific terms have been agreed to by the Taliban, and the RIV, which requires the elimination of roadside bombs, suicide bombs, rocket attacks and more, also applies to Afghans. 

"In recent weeks, in consultation with the Government of National Unity, U.S. negotiators in Doha have come to an understanding with the Taliban own a significant and nationwide reduction in violence across Afghanistan. Upon a successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward. We are preparing for the signing to take place on February 29," the statement continues. "Intra-Afghan negotiations will start soon thereafter, and will build on this fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permeant 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."

According to a senior State Department official, the signing will take place in Doha. 

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After successful deliveries from the Taliban and Afghans, the United States will implement its end of the agreement. This includes a signifiant reduction of U.S. troops in the country. The phase out of U.S. troops will happen in stages.

"Challenges remain, but the process made in Doha provides hope and represents a real opportunity. The United States calls on all Afghans to seize this moment. The United States thanks the State of Qatar and all other allies and partners for their support of peace in Afghanistan."  

According to a senior Trump administration official, while the U.S. is hopeful the RIV period will be successful, they are prepared for "spoilers" and outside actors who may try to derail the process.  

This story has been updated with additional information.