Taliban deny reports of ceasefire with US -The National

Taliban deny reports of ceasefire with US -The National

The Taliban on Monday rejected reports of a ceasefire in Afghanistan, although analysts said a truce appeared to be only a matter of time.

“The fact is that the [Taliban] has no decision on a ceasefire,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

“The Americans have demanded a reduction in violence and the [Taliban’s] internal consultations on this specific issue are ongoing.”

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman at the Taliban’s office in Qatar, wrote on Twitter that any truce would be announced to the public.

But close observers of developments in Afghanistan remain cautiously optimistic that US and the insurgents could agree on a truce in the near future as negotiations for a permanent peace deal advance.

“The ceasefire will happen but the Taliban still have a lot of homework to do, and such a ceasefire has to be nationwide,” said Hekmatullah Azamy, deputy director at the Centre for Conflict and Peace Studies in Kabul.

The Taliban would prefer a limited ceasefire, Mr Azamy said.

“From what I understand, the Taliban would be more open to discussing reducing violence in certain provinces rather than a full ceasefire, considering they already believe to have control over vast swathes of Afghan territory,” he said.

Such a deal would also require a process to measure and monitor the violence, Mr Azamy said.

“The Taliban don’t trust the US to stick to their deal, especially since talks were halted on at least three occasions by the US, the most recent being the announcement by President Trump in September this year,” he said.

While the Taliban continue to attack US targets, they also claim they have been attacked by American forces.

Mr Azamy said that if a ceasefire or agreement to reduce violence were reached, it would not be made public because that would make it harder to establish.

He said the insurgents might also want to keep a complete ceasefire for bargaining with the Afghan government in talks expected to follow a peace deal with the US.

“This could be the only thing they could give to the Afghans rather than the US,” Mr Azamy said.

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