The Taliban ruling council agreed to an upcoming but unspecified cease-fire in Afghanistan, The Associated Press reported on Sunday night.
The potential cease-fire, for which a date has yet to be specified, would allow a peace agreement with the United States and the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
The U.S. has been involved in a military engagement in Afghanistan for 18 years, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. Currently, there are some 12,000 troops in the area.
“The Taliban’s ruling council agreed Sunday to a temporary cease-fire in Afghanistan, providing a window in which a peace agreement with the United States can be signed, officials from the insurgent group said. They didn’t say when it would begin,” AP reports, noting that the White House “said it would have no comment.”
According to AP, the cease-fire will have to be approved by the Taliban chief and is expected to last for ten days.
“Four members of the Taliban negotiating team met for a week with the ruling council before they agreed on the brief cease-fire,” the agency reports. “The negotiating team returned Sunday to Qatar where the Taliban maintain their political office and where U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been holding peace talks with the religious militia since September, 2018.”
However, a report from AFP on Monday morning said the Taliban are now denying any such potential cease-fire.
“In the past few days, some media have been releasing untrue reports about a ceasefire … The fact is that, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has no ceasefire plans,” the Taliban said, according to AFP.
“The US and the Afghan government in Kabul have long called for a ceasefire with the Taliban, including during the year of negotiations between Washington and the Taliban that were abruptly called off by Trump in September,” the report states. “However, the militants have repeatedly stated that any potential truce will only be ironed out after American troops withdraw from the country.”
President Donald Trump declared previous peace talks in September “dead” after a U.S. soldier was killed in Kabul. The talks sparked back up in November when Trump made a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal. We’ll see if they want to make a deal. It’s got to be a real deal, but we’ll see. But they want to make a deal,” the president told troops while speaking at Bagram Air Base in November, according to CNN.
As noted by NBC News, in 2017, Trump “warned that a ‘hasty withdrawal’ from Afghanistan risked ceding ground to terrorists, ‘just as happened before September 11.'”
“We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq,” the president added.
As a candidate, Trump has criticized both parties over Middle East engagement and said former President Barack Obama was the “founder of ISIS“:
Trump astounded many in both parties when he repeatedly labeled Obama the “founder of ISIS” and the extremist group’s “most valuable player.” Pressed to concede he meant that only metaphorically, Trump was adamant that no, he meant it literally.