Separately, the Associated Press reported that Taliban officials said the group delivered to the US envoy in the talks “a document describing its offer for a temporary ceasefire in Afghanistan that would last between seven and 10 days.”
The United States’ demand for a reduction in violence slowed the resumption of formal peace talks for months. Both sides had appeared just a few days after signing a peace agreement in September before President Trump canceled the diplomatic effort of almost a year in a surprise tweet.
Trump said he made the decision after a Taliban attack that killed a member of the US service.
Since then, the United States special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has been looking for a way to restart negotiations, first facilitating the exchange of prisoners and now demanding a reduction in violence.
The talks resumed in November after Trump’s unannounced visit to Afghanistan on Thanksgiving, but they were “arrested” in December after a blatant Taliban attack on a highly fortified American base.
Another Taliban attack earlier this month claimed the lives of two members of the US service when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, promoted the attack on Twitter, saying that the explosion shattered the vehicle and killed the “invaders.”
The office of the president of Afghanistan has demanded that the Taliban accept a ceasefire and described the announced “reduction of violence” as inappropriate, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
Former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, a close ally of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, criticized the terminology of “violence reduction” as too vague. “We do not have [reduction in violence] in the dictionary of war and peace, “he said in a Twitter post on Thursday.
“This is how the Taliban interpret it,” he wrote. “‘ We kill some people instead of more people. We do an urban bombing a week instead of several “. CEASEFIRE exists in all cultures. STOP KILLING HUMANS. Simple.”
A peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban would pave the way for the withdrawal of thousands of US troops from Afghanistan, a key campaign promise that Trump wants to keep. But the withdrawal of troops will also increase pressure on Afghan government forces, which continue to struggle to carry out operations without the close support of the United States.
The US military command in Kabul has already begun reducing troops despite stalled peace efforts. In October, General Austin “Scott” Miller, commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said the number of troops in the country had been reduced by 2,000, and called the movement “part of our optimization.” His spokesman said it was not part of any reduction.
Some 13,000 American soldiers are in Afghanistan, according to an American military spokesman in Kabul, colonel of the Sonny Leggett army. When Miller took command in Afghanistan last year, troop levels were 15,000.
Shaiq Hussain in Islamabad and Sharif Hassan in Kabul contributed to this report.