Taliban to Reduce Violence to Rekindle Afghan Peace Hopes -Pakistan

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Pakistan’s Foreign Minister says the Taliban are ready to reduce violence in Afghanistan in a potential sign of progress as the U.S. and the insurgents plan to resume stalled truce talks in Qatar.

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“Today pleasant progress has come out. Taliban has agreed to the demand for a reduction in violence.

“And I think it is a step forward to the agreement for peace,” Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a video statement on Thursday.

Qureshi’s remarks came as U.S. Chief Negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban’s political interlocutors planned to restart talks four months after President Donald Trump pulled his officials out.

Trump said he took the decision after a Taliban attack killed a U.S. soldier and around a dozen others in Kabul.

Both sides were reportedly close to signing a deal after over a year of negotiations in Qatar.

After 18 years of war, the agreement would reportedly have seen the U.S. begin to draw down troops in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

Talks were briefly resumed after Khalilzad met the head of Taliban political office but were again put on hold following a deadly attack on Bagram Airbase in December.

“The Americans wanted Taliban to renounce violence before moving ahead,’’ a Pakistani intelligence official who craves anonymity said.

The official added that the Doha talks were likely to resume in days.

“The Taliban wanted both Afghanistan and Pakistan to release their prisoners before announcing the permanent ceasefire,’’ he said.

The Pakistani official did not say exactly how many Taliban prisoners were expected to be released by both countries; however, they put the number in thousands.

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