Taliban council agrees to temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan

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The Taliban said they have agreed to a temporary cease-fire nationwide, providing a window during which a peace agreement with the United States could be signed.
A peace deal would allow Washington to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America’s longest.
The US wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not used as a base by terrorist groups. The US currently has an estimated 12,000 troops in Afghanistan.
Taliban’s Qatar-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen. (AP)
At least 10 soldiers were killed on December 28, in a pre-dawn Taliban attack on an Afghan military base in the Sangin district. (EPA)
The Taliban chief must approve the agreement but that is expected. The duration of the cease-fire was not specified but it is being suggested it would last for 10 days.
Members of the Taliban negotiating team met for a week with the ruling council before they agreed on the brief cease fire. The negotiating team returned on Sunday (local time) to Qatar where they maintain their political office.
The Taliban officials familiar with the negotiations spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
A key pillar of the agreement, which the US and Taliban have been hammering out for more than a year, is direct negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict.

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Those intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to be held within two weeks of the signing of a US-Taliban peace deal. They will likely decide what a post-war Afghanistan will look like, and what role the Taliban will play.
Afghan security forces prepare for an operation against Taliban militants, in the Guzara district of the Herat province, Afghanistan. (EPA)
The negotiations would cover a wide range of subjects, such as the rights of women, free speech and the fate of the tens of thousands of Taliban fighters, as well as the heavily armed militias belonging to Afghanistan’s warlords who have amassed wealth and power since the Taliban’s ouster.
The temporary cease-fire had been proposed by US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad during the last round of talks.
The Taliban frequently target Afghan and US forces, as well as government officials. But scores of Afghan civilians are also killed in the crossfire or by roadside bombs planted by militants.