Peace deal with US to be signed by months' end, Taliban says

The U.S. and Taliban will sign a peace deal by the end of the month, the Taliban reportedly said Monday. 

Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi, a senior Taliban leader, said in a video shared with journalists that “both sides have initiated the final draft of the peace agreement. Now talks are concluded,” according to The Washington Post.

“Both sides have agreed to sign the agreement by the end of this month” after making a “favorable environment before signing of the agreement,” Hanafi reportedly said. 

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It is the first formal statement released by the Taliban since the U.S. announced a peace deal on Friday. 

Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Official: Pentagon has started 'prudent planning' for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May US issues Iran sanctions to enforce UN action ignored by international community MORE said Saturday the administration had not reached a firm date on when a seven-day “reduction in violence” may begin. 

“So we have on the table right now a reduction in violence proposal that was negotiated between our ambassador and the Taliban,” Esper told an audience at the Munich Security Conference, according to The Associated Press. “It looks very promising.”

The plan seeks to end attacks for seven days followed by the signing of a U.S.-Taliban peace deal. Afghan peace talks would begin shortly after with an aim of a phased withdrawal of U.S. forces over 18 months.