18:36 GMT12 August 2020
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    Peace talks between the Taliban and US appear to be making significant progress, as Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar reportedly issued an ultimatum to Washington, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo communicated that an agreement was just days away.

    The Taliban threatened to walk away from the negotiating table earlier this week if the US did not reply to their offer for a seven-day “reduction of violence in Afghanistan,” according to the Associated Press, which cited two Taliban officials.

    The Wednesday report came one day after President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani reported via social media that Pompeo had recently contacted him concerning negotiations.

    The New York Times reported that an Afghan official briefed on Pompeo’s call to Afghan government officials revealed that US President Donald Trump had granted “tentative approval” to signing a peace agreement if the Taliban commit to a reduction of violence during the seven-day period.

    Speaking Tuesday at the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security, US national security adviser Robert O’Brien said that “some news could be forthcoming” regarding the discussions with the Taliban, reported CBS News.

    “There will have to be reduction in violence and meaningful inter-Afghan talks,” he said, also noting that there is no plan for an “imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan,” because the US does not want to make Afghanistan a “safe haven for terrorism again.”

    “US talks with the Taliban in Doha continue around the specifics of a reduction in violence,” a State Department official told the Wall Street Journal earlier this week.

    The Taliban have been vocal about their unwillingness to have discussions with Kabul until they and the US reach a peace agreement.

    "As Taliban representatives have stated, once the agreement is signed, they will be ready to start direct inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations with other political forces, including the government of Afghanistan,” Zamir Kabulov, the Russian presidential envoy to Afghanistan, said over the weekend.


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