Taliban propose brief Afghan ceasefire: insurgent sources

The TALIBAN have offered a brief ceasefire to the US, two insurgent sources said Thursday, a move which could allow the resumption of talks seeking a deal for Washington to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
Washington has for weeks been calling on the militants to reduce violence, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave the country in return for security guarantees from the insurgents.
“It is an offer for a ceasefire either for seven or 10 days,” a senior Taliban official who requested anonymity told AFP, adding that the offer was made to US negotiators in Doha.
“It has been finalised and given to the Americans. It is going to pave the way for an agreement.”
A second insurgent source, based in Pakistan, confirmed that the offer had been handed to the US.
The Taliban have yet to release an official statement, and Washington has not said whether it has received any offer from the insurgents or what its response will be.
The Taliban and the US had been negotiating the deal 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.
Talks were 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.
The insurgents’ offer, if accepted by the Americans, could see the negotiations begin again.
The confirmation from the insurgents comes hours after Pakistan’s foreign minister said the Taliban has shown “a willingness” to reduce violence.
“Today, positive progress has been made, the Taliban have shown their willingness to reduce the violence, which was a demand… it’s a step towards the peace agreement,” said Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in a video statement.
He gave no further details.
Islamabad has helped facilitate the talks between the militants and Washington in Qatar.
Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognise the Taliban regime, and its shadowy military establishment — particularly the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) — is widely believed to back the bloody insurgency in Afghanistan.
Islamabad denies the accusation.
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 jihadists.
The Taliban’s relationship with Al-Qaeda was the main reason cited for the US invasion nearly 18 years ago.
The Taliban have until now refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate regime, raising fears that fighting will continue regardless of any deal ironed out with the Americans.