US announces week-long partial truce with Taliban

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Meet Fatima and Fiza some of the women removing landmines in Afghanistan

Defence Secretary Mark Esper earlier said they had "negotiated a proposal" for a week-long reduction in violence. After the seven-day reduction, the two sides would sign the overall agreement and kick-start intra-Afghan negotiations.

But they have been fraught with challenges. Trump cited the death of a US soldier in a Taliban attack as grounds for doing so, but it came after he had invited the militant group to Camp David, rescinded the invitation, and then tweeted about it, eventually saying talks were dead.

"Given the messy Afghan political situation, including a prolonged election crisis and deep rivalries between powerful factions", Kugelman said, "it's going to be a tall order to launch much less conclude a successful peace process resulting in a power-sharing deal with the Taliban". "If we can get there and we can hold that posture for a while, we may well be able to begin the serious discussion which is all the Afghans sitting at a table finding a true reconciliation".

A short-term reduction in violence is being sought by the Taliban because they don't want to commit to a formal ceasefire until other components of a final deal are in place.

"The only solution in Afghanistan is a political agreement; progress has been made on this front and we'll have more to report on that soon, I hope", Esper said. "But we should anticipate a few more bumps even as we approach the finish line", Kugelman said.

However, the secretary also stressed that the approach to the peace process would be conditions-based and continually reevaluated.

The United States now has between 12,000 and 13,000 troops in Afghanistan.

The Taliban controls or contests half of Afghanistan, more territory than any time since the group was toppled in 2001 following the terrorist attacks on the U.S. The U.S. now has about 13,000 of the nearly 23,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000 in 2011.

How did we get here?

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"I think we're very close", Trump said on a podcast broadcast on iHeart Radio when asked if a tentative deal had been reached.

But days later, Mr Trump said the talks were "dead", after the militant group admitted to killing a U.S. soldier.

"They want to get an answer", said the Taliban source of those commanders, adding they "feared that the US may pull back again of the table due to any incident or attack in Afghanistan". The full details of this reduction are still unknown, but the militant group has been pushing the sign off on it soon, according to a Taliban source.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Wednesday there had been "notable progress" in continuing talks between the U.S. and the Taliban.

What's the background to the Afghan war?

They took Kabul in 1996 and were in charge of most of the country within two years, practising their own austere version of Sharia, or Islamic law.

Two U.S. soldiers were killed Saturday in a possible insider attack, where an Afghan military official attacks U.S. troops he or she is training with. However, they turned into an insurgent force and continued deadly attacks, destabilising subsequent Afghan governments. This is their story.

The coalition ended its combat mission in 2014, staying only to train Afghan forces. In 2018, the BBC found they were active across 70% of Afghanistan.

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