The Taliban said Sunday they have agreed to a temporary cease-fire nationwide. It provides a window during which a peace agreement with the US could be signed, the AP reports. A peace deal would allow the US to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America's longest. The US wants any deal to include a promise from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as a base by terrorist groups. The US currently has an estimated 12,000 troops in Afghanistan. The duration of the cease-fire was not specified, but the suggestions were a week to 10 days. Members of the Taliban negotiating team met for a week with the ruling council before they agreed on the brief cease fire. The negotiating team returned on Sunday to Qatar.
A key pillar of the agreement, which the US and Taliban have been hammering out for more than a year, is direct negotiations between Afghans on both sides of the conflict. They will likely decide what a postwar Afghanistan will look like, and what role the Taliban will play. The negotiations would cover subjects including the rights of women, free speech, and the fate of the the tens of thousands of Taliban fighters, as well as the heavily armed militias belonging to Afghanistan's warlords who have amassed wealth and power since the Taliban's ouster. The US envoy to the Afghan peace process had insisted on a 10-day Taliban cease-fire, per the Wall Street Journal, before any deal is signed. Earlier Sunday, a Taliban attack in northern Afghanistan killed at least 17 local militiamen. (The 20th US combat death in Afghanistan occurred last week.)