İrem UZUN –TDO- (14.02.2020)- The United States has had “a pretty important breakthrough” in peace talks with the Taliban over the past couple of days, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, but he cautioned that Washington wants to see a significant fall in violence in Afghanistan before starting wider discussions. Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier said they had "negotiated a proposal" for a week-long reduction in violence.

The two sides have long been engaged in negotiations aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. But they have been fraught with challenges. President Donald Trump declared the talks "dead" in September. On Thursday, Pompeo said the U.S. president had given the go-ahead for further talks. He hailed recent progress, but said the negotiations were complicated and that a peace deal had not yet been reached. "We hope we can get to the place where we can get a significant reduction in violence, not only on a piece of paper," he said. "If we can get there and we can hold that posture for a while, we may well be able to begin the serious discussion which is all the Afghans sitting at a table finding a true reconciliation."

According to sources familiar with the discussions, the partial ceasefire would usher in a more formal agreement by which the US would reduce its 12,000-strong military presence in Afghanistan and the Taliban would agree to enter into comprehensive talks with Afghan officials on a political settlement. Trump is eager to show progress in winding down America’s longest war and ship troops back to the U.S. during his re-election campaign. Afghanistan experts warned, however, the president risks handing a propaganda coup to the Taliban, while doing little to stop the bloodshed.

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