Updated Feb 21, 2020 - World

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

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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U.S. troops begin withdrawing from Afghanistan

Afghani President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan on Tuesday under the peace agreement signed by the U.S. and Taliban last month, reports the AP.

The state of play: The move comes amid ongoing political tensions in Afghanistan as Kabul hosted two presidential inaugurations on Monday, with both incumbent Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah continuing to insist that they won the last election.

Go deeperArrowMar 10, 2020 - World

U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan

Citizens in Afghanistan celebrate the first day of reduced violence. Photo: Javed Tanveer/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. military officially ceased offensive operations against the Taliban in Afghanistan early Saturday morning, The Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: This is the first step in the U.S.-Afghanistan peace process. If the "reduction of violence" for the next seven days is effective, the U.S. government and Taliban will likely sign a peace deal at the end of February.

Go deeperArrowFeb 22, 2020 - World

U.S. reaches "huge milestone moment" in Afghanistan peace process

U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (L) and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (R) sign a peace agreement between U.S., Taliban, in Doha, Qatar on Feb. 29. Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The U.S. has signed a deal with the Taliban aimed at ending its war in Afghanistan after 18 years, starting with the withdrawal of around 4,000 troops "within months."

Why it matters: America has wanted out of Afghanistan for at least a decade. The deal signed in Doha should finally accomplish that — but peace for Afghanistan remains far from secure.

Go deeperArrowFeb 29, 2020 - World