Updated Feb 21, 2020 - World

U.S. and Taliban announce first step in Afghanistan peace process

Taliban negotiators in Qatar

Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The State Department confirmed Friday morning the U.S. and Taliban have "reached an understanding" that starts a 7-day "reduction of violence" to be followed by a signed U.S.-Taliban agreement.

Why it matters: The Afghanistan war is the longest war in U.S. history. President Trump has previously pulled out of talks at the last minute, only to restart them.

What's next: The U.S. and Taliban are expected to formally sign the agreement on Feb. 29, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday. That will be followed by intra-Afghanistan peace talks.

"After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afghanistan. This is an important step on a long road to peace, and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity."
— Sec. of State Mike Pompeo, on Twitter

State of play: Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani won re-election on Feb. 18 — five months after the elections initially took place.

  • There's long been a dispute between the official government and the Taliban over who speaks for Afghanistan.
  • The Taliban has previously refused to meet with Ghani to discuss peace talks, calling him a "puppet of the U.S."

The bottom line: While the U.S. and Taliban have reached some-type of understanding, it doesn't guarantee intra-Afghanistan peace talks will go over smoothly.

Go deeper: The Afghanistan conundrum

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