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Leaders ‘Sanguine’ As Partial Truce Begins

Taliban rebels, US-led forces, Afghan troops have begun a period of weeklong reduced violence, embarking on a new chapter of marathon peace talks outside Afghanistan

AT News

KABUL: A day after a seven-day ‘reduction in violence’ between the US and the Taliban began, Afghan leaders reacted keenly on Saturday, expressing hope over prospects of peace through a partial truce.

President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai separately welcomed the announcement by the US and Taliban of the start of the reduction in violence plan which will hopefully lead to a signed peace deal on February 29.

Former president Hamid Karzai also welcomed the reduction in violence plan. In his Twitter, he said, “Announcement of the date for the signing of the peace agreement between the United States and the…Taliban is good news. I hope intra-Afghan talks will start soon for lasting peace in our beloved country.” Karzai tweeted.

President Ghani in a televised address welcomed the move by the US and the Taliban to initiate a week-long reduction in violence plan, but he cautioned that the Afghan security forces will reserve the right to defend the nation if needed. “The move by the Taliban to reduce violence to a significant level is an important step towards reaching a ceasefire and restoring sustainable peace,” said Ghani.

Ghani said that Afghan forces will not violate the reduction in violence plan but will continue their operations against Daesh, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on Twitter welcomed the reduction in violence plan. He said, “Afghans see this as a necessary steppingstone toward intra-Afghan negotiations, a permanent ceasefire and a durable settlement acceptable to our citizens. As a responsible side, we will do our utmost to facilitate, cooperate and justly resolve all outstanding issues to build consensus that engages Afghans in peace making.”

The statements come on the heels of an announcement from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo earlier on Friday which said that the deal between the United States and the Taliban – about which the two sides have agreed after more than 10 rounds of talks with chief US 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.

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