The United States is seeking to seal a peace deal with the Taliban as soon as this week, two top US defense officials familiar with the US-Taliban talks have told CNN.
The signing of a potential peace agreement will pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces from the country, CNN quoted the US defense officials as saying.
“The prospective deal is being described as a 'reduction in violence announcement,' which would call for a ceasefire period between the coalition and the Taliban, with hopes of a peace deal being reached in the near future,” according to CNN.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has said that the recent progress in the peace process will help create conditions for a ceasefire and the start of intra-Afghan talks.
“Hopes have been created, we cannot say that everything is being solved, but an agreement has been reached to reduce the level of war and a reduction in violence so that it can be the grounds for the start of a nationwide ceasefire in Afghanistan,” said Abdullah.
But officials from the Afghan Presidential Palace say that the Afghan government is working to convene a Loya Jirga aimed at creating a national consensus on the peace process.
According to CNN, on Wednesday representatives of the US and the Taliban held talks for 12 hours in Doha on the peace process.
Afghan politicians meanwhile advocate for a national consensus before the start of the intra-Afghan talks.
“The Taliban negotiating team is consulting with the Quetta Shura (Quetta Council) to seek guidelines, but where the team of the Islamic republic (Afghanistan) should consult, for that, we need the reconciliation council,” said Mohammad Hanif Atmar, former National Security Advisor.
“The politicians within and outside the system (government) need to create a consensus and then participate with a clear agenda and in a united front in the talks,” said former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni.
“We will convene a jirga (grand national assembly) to revive the consensus and to outline another roadmap for peace in the presence of representatives of the Afghan people,” said Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman to President Ashraf Ghani.
This comes a day after New York Times reported that US President Trump has 'conditionally approved' a peace deal with the Taliban that may lead to the withdrawal of US troops as long as the Taliban can commit to a reduction in violence.