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article imageUS and Taliban agree to cease fighting in Afghanistan

By Ken Hanly     Oct 20, 2020 in Politics
US negotiator Zalmay Khalizad along with General Austin Miller had a meeting with the Taliban and reached an agreement that the Taliban would cease their Helmand offensive and the US would halt airstrikes.
Agreement solves several problems
The US airstrikes were in clear violation of the Doha agreement signed in February and the Taliban was warning they would retaliate over them. The Taliban offensive in the province of Helmand also threatened intra-Afghan peace talks.
The agreement is likely to bring calm to both situations. The Taliban did not lose much as their offensive had already effectively failed. The US air attacks flagrantly violated the prior February peace agreement.
The agreement brings both sides back to their senses, and hopefully to completion of the peace process and ultimately the complete withdrawal from Afghanistan.. Both these goals should come closer with the agreement.
Khalizad tweeted on Thursday that he and General Austin Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan held talks with the Taliban and both sides agreed to a reset resulting in fewer operations: “Following several meetings Gen. Miller and I had with the Taliban we agreed to re-set actions by strictly adhering to implementation of all elements of the U.S.-Taliban agreement and all commitments made."
In recent years the Taliban have gained control of almost 80 percent of Helmand provinces mostly in rural areas.
US withdrawal from Afghanistan
The US is already in the process of withdrawing from Afghanistan. The Taliban and the US had agreed to a peace and withdrawal deal the end of February.. The US has already kept the timetable so far for withdrawal. US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said on Friday that the Trump administration has a plan to bring troop numbers in Afghanistan down to 2,500 by early 2021:“The President has set a timeline for troop withdrawal; we are going to be down to under 5,000 troops within the next month, and in the early part of next year we’re going to be down to 2,500 troops,”
The February agreement did not involve the Afghan government so separate intra-Afghan talks have been taking place to ensure there is a peace agreement with the Afghan government. The February agreement requires all US and foreign troops to withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1 next year.
More about US Taliban peace agreement, US Taliban US relations, War in afghanistan
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