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Taliban confirms agreement to sign peace deal

ISLAMABAD, Feb 21 (KUNA) -- Taliban rebels on Friday confirmed to agree signing of Afghan peace deal with United States on February 29 to end 18-year long war in Afghanistan.
Afghan Taliban rebels in a statement to media confirmed that the US-Taliban deal will be signed on February 29.
The group said that the two sides the US and the Taliban are preparing the required security situation ahead of the signing of the deal and that representatives of different countries, and the United Nations, will be invited for the event.
Also, preparations will be made for a prisoner release, the grounds for which will be provided by the different sides for the intra-Afghan talks, and ultimately the way will be opened for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, the Taliban statement said.
The United States and Taliban rebels have agreed on seven-day period of the reduction in violence to facilitate the signing of peace deal.
The Afghan National Security Council (NSC) on Friday confirmed that the seven-day period of the reduction in violence which the United States and the Taliban have agreed as a pre-condition to signing a peace deal will begin at midnight.
The NSC spokesman, Jawed Faisal said that Afghan forces are ready to implement the reduction in violence plan.
"Required guidance has been given to Afghan forces in this respect," Faisal said.
"It begins on Saturday at 12am," adding that "We hope that the Taliban will reduce violence as per the commitments." Afghan acting Interior Minister, Massoud Andarabi in a statement to media said that government operations will be stopped on Saturday, although the Afghan forces will remain ready to respond if the Taliban violates the agreement.
Earlier on Thursday, Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that President Ghani, during a meeting with US special envoy Khalilzad who is in Kabul for the past two days discussed issues related to the Afghan peace as well as the details on the "significant reduction in violence." The statement by NSC came on the day when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the deal between the United States and the Taliban about which the two sides have agreed after more than 10 rounds of talks led by chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad will be signed on February 29.
Last month, Taliban have agreed on reduction in its military operations in Afghanistan until the signing of the peace agreement with the United States which Taliban were optimistic could have signed last month.
The announcement for signing the deal came after several sessions of peace negotiations between US and Taliban led by Khalilzad in Doha, Qatar. (end) sbk.ibi