US Agrees to Reduce Forces in Afghanistan ‘If Taliban Live Up to Their Commitments’

 In Afghanistan, Defense, Threats

The tests will begin with a seven-day cease­fire to start “very soon,” a senior U.S. admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial told reporters.

MUNICH The United States and the Taliban have reached an agree­ment for a seven-day cease­fire that will start “very soon,” a senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial revealed on Friday, adding that that the U.S. has agreed to reduce its mil­i­tary pres­ence in the coun­try “if the Taliban live up to their com­mit­ments.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the Munich Security Conference on Friday, along with Amb. Zalmay Khalizad, lead nego­tia­tor of the agree­ment, and Gen. Scott Miller.

“The reduc­tion-of-vio­lence agree­ment is very spe­cif­ic,” the senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial, who was not autho­rized to speak on the record, told reporters at the Munich Security Conference. “It includes every­thing — road­side bombs, sui­cide bombs, rocket attacks – that’s all writ­ten out.”

It will be up to Gen. Scott Miller — the senior U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­der in Afghanistan — to deter­mine whether the Taliban is break­ing the cease­fire, or whether such vio­lence should derail the peace process.

The offi­cial said there is a chan­nel between the U.S. mil­i­tary com­mand and the Taliban “to mon­i­tor, dis­cuss, and raise issues…We have a lot of means for mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion in Afghanistan, so all of them will be engaged.”

The offi­cial likened the agree­ment to Cold War nuclear arms agree­ments with the Soviet Union.

“We don’t trust, but we will have to verify,” the offi­cial said. “There will be mon­i­tor­ing, there will be ver­i­fi­ca­tion asso­ci­at­ed with it and see if the Talib deliv­er. If the Taliban live up to their com­mit­ments, we have com­mit­ments in terms of reduc­tions of forces, which are also spe­cif­ic and time-lined.” 

Those American troop with­drawals would be based on con­di­tions and come in phases, the offi­cial said.

The offi­cial out­lined the peace path the Trump admin­is­tra­tion wants. If an actual reduc­tion of vio­lence occurs and holds, the next step is inter-Afghan nego­ti­a­tions with the gov­ern­ment, which already has agreed to those talks.

“That’s in black and white in the agree­ment,” the offi­cial revealed.

Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials hope this will lead to a more “com­pre­hen­sive and per­ma­nent cease­fire that ends the Afghan-Afghan war.”

Why now? The U.S. offi­cial said there was noth­ing on the Taliban side that changed their minds. This was all the work of the U.S. pres­i­dent, the offi­cial insist­ed.

“I think the credit really goes to the pres­i­dent – President Trump,” the offi­cial said. 

Trump sus­pend­ed nego­ti­a­tions and called them “dead,” after September’s rise in vio­lence. 

“The Talib want the agree­ment. It’s a big change that they’ve agreed to break with ter­ror­ism and [that] under the areas that they con­trol there will be no host­ing, no pres­ence, no train­ing, no recruit­ment, no fundrais­ing by ter­ror­ists who threat­en the United States or our allies,” the offi­cial said.  

Source: Defense One

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