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Time-bound ceasefire amid US-Taliban talks rejected by Afghan government

The spokesperson of Afghan government Sediq Sediqqi has said that the proposed “reduction in violence” by the Afghan Taliban as an “ambiguous term with no legal or military parameters” was rejected by the Afghan people and the government reported Al Jazeera.

Sediqqi said while addressing a news conference in Kabul on Saturday “Any suggestion the Taliban have shared with the US must include ceasefire as it is the demand of our people”.

The spokesperson of Afghan government Sediq Sediqqi said talks are underway between the team of US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban negotiators, but there had been “no progress so far,” in specific reference to discussions about a ceasefire or reduction in violence, TOLO news reported.

The spokesperson added that bringing the peace and ending the war to the country are priorities of the government of Afghanistan and “the president and the people of Afghanistan have always insisted on a ceasefire.”

The spokesperson of Afghan government Sediq Sediqqi reiterated that the people should see a ceasefire because it is the “most important demand of Afghans.”

He further 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.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said in a statement earlier that 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

Shaheen gave a statement that came comes as the group and the discussions were held by US in Doha this week, after insurgent sources told AFP they had offered to initiate a brief ceasefire.

Shaheen told the sources in a report published Saturday, “We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States.”

Shaheen 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. The spokesperson added, “It’s now a matter of days”.

The deal has been negotiated by Taliban and the US 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.

Discussion was 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.

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