A Pakistani Foreign Ministry official confirmed that the proposal was handed over to Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy. The “Americans are looking into it,” he said, also speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
In a meeting with reporters in Washington, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi hailed what he called an announcement that the “Taliban gave a nod of approval to an Afghan cease fire, and that could lead to an agreement.”
He said hoped there would be a “reduction of violence pointing toward a cease fire.”
Peace talks between the United States and the Taliban have been stalled for months. Talks were scuttled in September with a tweet from President Trump, and Khalilzad has been working for months to bring both sides back to the table.
Negotiations resumed in December but were paused days later following a Taliban attack on the highly fortified Bagram air base, north of Kabul, used by the United States.
This round of informal discussions has been “fruitful” and is expected to continue for “several days,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said Friday.
The two sides “discussed the signing of the agreement and the ceremony for it,” he tweeted. It’s unclear what agreement Shaheen is referring to. He did not respond to requests for comment.
For the Afghan government, a reduction in violence is insufficient.
“A ceasefire is the only way to achieve a lasting and dignified peace,” Sediq Sediqqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan’s president, tweeted Friday.
A State Department spokesperson said “the Taliban will need to demonstrate that they are committed and able to reduce violence and eventually abide by a cease fire.” The State Department would not comment on whether the Taliban delivered a proposal to Khalilzad or release details of what a reduction in violence would look like.
“Our team in Doha has made exceedingly clear to the Taliban that the current level of violence is not conducive for peace,” said the spokesperson, who was authorized to release information only on the condition of anonymity.
A diplomat based in Kabul briefed on the Doha negotiations said the Taliban’s proposed reduction in violence would apply to major cities and include a cessation of high-profile attacks. The proposal also included the possibility of halting attacks along highways, the diplomat said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. American negotiators are pushing for a reduction in violence against all Afghan government forces, as well as NATO coalition forces and U.S. troops, the diplomat added.
Once formal peace talks restart, American and Taliban negotiators will return to drafting a peace agreement. The draft deal reached in September would have withdrawn thousands of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban pledge not to harbor terrorists with aspirations of carrying out international attacks.
In the years before he ran for president, Trump called for ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan. There are about 13,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. military command in Kabul, down from 15,000 in late 2018.
Earlier this month, a Taliban attack claimed the lives of two U.S. service members when a roadside bomb exploded as their vehicle passed. A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, touted the attack on Twitter, saying the blast shredded the vehicle and killed the “invaders.”
Khan reported from Peshawar, Pakistan. Shaiq Hussain in Islamabad, Sayed Salahuddin in Kabul and Karen DeYoung in Washington contributed to this report.