Afghan government rejects time-bound ceasefire amid US-Taliban talks

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US-Taliban close in on deal as Ghani reports progress

KABUL: Afghan government spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi has said that the Afghan people and the government reject the proposed “reduction in violence” by the Afghan Taliban as an “ambiguous term with no legal or military parameters”, reported Al Jazeera.
“Any suggestion the Taliban have shared with the US must include ceasefire as it is the demand of our people,” Sediqqi said while addressing a news conference in Kabul on Saturday.
Sediqqi said talks are underway between US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad’s team and the Taliban negotiators, but there had been “no progress so far,” referring specifically to discussions about a ceasefire or reduction in violence, TOLO news reported.
The spokesperson said that ending the war and bringing peace to the country are priorities of the government of Afghanistan and “the president and the people of Afghanistan have always insisted on a ceasefire.”
Sediqqi reiterated that the people should see a ceasefire because it is the “most important demand of Afghans.”
He added that reduction in violence “is not practical” and “we hope that the Taliban will end violence as it will lead them nowhere.” “The Taliban “should accept a ceasefire if they are really interested in peace,” as it is the “demand of the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
A day earlier Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen in a statement said the Afghan Taliban were hoping to sign a withdrawal agreement with Washington by the end of January and were prepared to “scale down” military operations ahead of signing the deal
The statement by Shaheen to daily Dawn comes as the group and the US held discussions in Doha this week, after insurgent sources told AFP they had offered to initiate a brief ceasefire.
“We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States,” Shaheen told Dawn in a report published Saturday.
He added that the Taliban were “optimistic” a deal with Washington could be signed before the end of the month and that the reduction in fighting across the country would also include the targeting of Afghan forces. “It’s now a matter of days,” said the spokesman.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when President Donald Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing Taliban violence.
Talks were later restarted between the two sides in December in Qatar, but were paused again following an attack near the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, which is run by the US.
Any agreement with the Taliban is expected to have two main pillars — an American withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a commitment by the insurgents not to offer sanctuary to militants — and would ultimately have to be given final approval by Trump. …Agencies

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