“The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence,” Esper told reporters in Brussels on Thursday, dubbing his meetings with NATO colleagues “productive”.
“We’ve said all along that the best, if not the only, solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement. Progress has been made on that front and we’ll have more to report on that soon, I hope,” Esper said.
Esper did not say when the partial truce would begin.
“It is our view that seven days for now is sufficient but in all things our approach to this process will be conditions based, I will say it again, conditions based,” he said.
The US and the Taliban have been locked in gruelling talks that have stretched over more than a year, seeking an end to Afghanistan’s 18-year war, the US’s longest conflict.
Citing Afghan and US officials, The New York Times has reported that US President Donald Trump had given conditional approval to a deal with the Taliban to allow him to start withdrawing US troops.
Sources say the partial truce could lead to the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal that would see the US pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan, in return for which the Taliban would provide various security guarantees and launch eventual talks with the Kabul government.
There are about 13,000 US troops as well as thousands of other NATO personnel in Afghanistan, 18 years after a US-led coalition invaded the country following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US.
“It will be a continual evaluative process as we go forward – if we go forward,” said Esper.
SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies