Taliban claims deal with U.S. to be signed by February

The militia’s political spokesman based in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, on Monday said an agreement between the Taliban and the U.S would be signed by the end of February.

U.S. and Taliban representatives have been holding talks aimed at finding a political solution to the war in Afghanistan for more than a year and a half.

“According to the agreement, all foreign troops will leave Afghanistan. We will not allow anyone to use Afghanistan’s land against another country,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen added that about 5,000 Taliban prisoners were to be released following the signing of the agreement and before the beginning of intra-Afghan negotiations.

However, Washington has not confirmed the Taliban’s timeline nor the contents of the deal.

The Afghanistan’s Chief Executive, Abdullah Abdullah, said that an agreement between the Taliban and the U.S. had been finalised.

The Taliban are at the same time, expected to announce a seven-day reduction in violence, which the U.S. is demanding of the militant group before signing any agreement.

Abdullah suggested that the proposal for reduction in violence was a pre-condition for signing the agreement, adding that the Taliban must prove that they are ready for a final agreement.

However, Shaheen was yet to comment on when those seven days would commence.

Earlier, the U.S. Secretary of Defence, Mike Esper, said that at the end of the seven-day period, the U.S. would have to decide whether to move forward with the agreement or not.

On Friday, NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, said that the alliance was prepared to adjust its force level if the Taliban demonstrate the ability to reduce violence and make real compromises.

Meanwhile, violence had continued unabated in Afghanistan amid the developments.

According to the Provincial Councilors, at least 13 Afghan soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on a military checkpoint in the capital of Northern Kunduz province on Monday.

The councilors added that four were killed on the initial attack and nine others were killed when reinforcements deployed to the area were ambushed on the way.

Earlier, the Afghan army reported that 20 offensive operations and 10 airstrikes in 15 provinces over the past 24 hours killed 22 Taliban militants.

However, the actual numbers could not be verified independently.

The U.S. Chief Negotiator, Zalmay Khalizad, urged all Afghans to seize the opportunity and end the misery of more than four decades of war.

“Success is not guaranteed,” he said.

The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, referred to the recent developments in U.S.-Taliban talks, that the potential threats and opportunities must be precisely evaluated.

“We haven’t seen any notable developments and concrete anti-terrorism steps taken by Pakistan. Taliban’s sanctuaries remain a dilemma that must be addressed,“ Ghani said.

The Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, however, rejected accusations by an Afghan official that his country was harbouring militants, adding that his government had done everything humanly possible to facilitate the peace process.

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