US Defense Secretary Mark Esper at a press conference on Thursday, the second and final day of the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels, announced that the Trump administration and the Taliban had negotiated a seven-day reduction in violence proposal.
“The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence. I am here today consulting with allies about this proposal and we had a series productive bilateral and collective meetings about the path forward,” said Esper.
“Progress has been made on this front and we will have more to report on that soon,” said Esper.
“The only solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement; progress has been made on this front and we’ll have more to report on that soon, I hope,” Esper said.
Meanwhile, top Pentagon officials have told CNN that The United States is seeking to seal a peace deal with the Taliban as soon as this week.
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.
When asked if seven days are enough to evaluate the Taliban’s sincerity for ending the conflict, Esper said that in Washington’s perspective the seven days' reduction in violence, for now, is enough, but, it's a "conditions-based" process.
"It is our view that seven days, for now, is sufficient, but in all things our approach to this process will be conditions-based. I will say it again: conditions-based so it will be a continual evaluative process as we move forward, if move forward," Esper said.
On the sidelines of the conference, Afghan acting Minister of Defense Assadullah Khalid met with Esper, and the US defense secretary reaffirmed Washington’s enduring support to the Afghan security forces, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
“In today’s NATO defense ministers meeting, all allies reiterated their commitment to support Afghan security forces, particularly the Afghan National Army, until 2024,” Khalid told TOLOnews in Brussels.