ISLAMABAD (AP) – A senior U.S. State Department official says the countdown to the signing of a peace agreement between the Taliban and the United States to end the 18 years of war in Afghanistan will begin tonight. The official says Friday night will mark the start of the seven-day “reduction of violence” deal promised by the Taliban, without specifying the exact time. Then, a peace agreement will be signed in Qatar on Feb. 29, paving the way for a withdrawal of U.S. troops and intra- Afghan negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the peace agreement will also lead to an eventual permanent cease-fire.
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