Over the weekend, the Taliban was reporting that a draft deal was in place with the US which, if put into effect, would see the US out of Afghanistan entirely in 18 months. US officials downplayed that until Monday, when they finally confirmed that the outline for such a deal does exist.
Officials are still saying the deal is tentative, and that the Taliban has yet to accept “key US demands.” This appears to center on a ceasefire before the pullout, and direct talks with the Kabul government, both of which the Taliban were suggesting openness to over the weekend.
The Kabul government does seem to be open to the idea too. President Ghani says that the US and other foreign forces are not required for the long term. He said the plan was always to get this down to zero.
The Taliban had long resisted the idea of talks with the Afghan government, saying that they have no meaningful power while the US is in place. As part of a deal to get the US to leave, however, they have suggested openness.
Interim Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said that there have been no orders yet to draw down from Afghanistan. That said, he conceded that the Afghan peace talks are “encouraging.”
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