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US reaches deal with Taliban to reduce Afghanistan attacks, Esper says

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has reached an initial deal with the Taliban for a reduction in the deadly attacks that have ravaged Afghanistan for years, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters on Friday.  

“The United States and the Taliban have negotiated a proposal for a seven-day reduction in violence,” said Esper, who is in Germany for an international security conference. 

The seven-day clock has not started ticking, but Trump administration officials hope it will lead to a broader Afghanistan peace deal and a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops. 

“We’ve said all along that the best, if not only, solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement,” Esper said. “Progress has been made on this front, and we’ll have more to report on that soon, I hope.” 

There are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan whose mission is split between training Afghan security forces and conducting counterterrorism missions. The American military presence there dates to 2001 when U.S. troops helped topple the hardline Taliban government that had sheltered al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

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