Esper says Taliban truce agreement 'looks very promising'

Tim O'Donnell

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is optimistic about peace in Afghanistan.

He said Saturday that a "reduction in violence" agreement between the United States and the Taliban in Afghanistan "looks very promising." It's a multi-step process, though, and one that figures to come with challenges.

The initial truce, which is expected to be formally announced Sunday and begin Monday, would last for seven days. If it holds, a U.S.-Taliban peace deal would follow, and finally All-Afghan peace negotiations would begin within 10 days. A phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country over the next 18 months would also be part of the broader scheme. Esper did not say whether the U.S. agreed to eventually cut its forces there to 0.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has reportedly been skeptical of the proposal, and he can't agree with other political leaders in Afghanistan over who will lead the final stages of the process between Afghanistan and the Taliban. Still, Esper said he thinks Ghani "is fully on board." Despite all the optimism, though, the secretary said the plan does involve "taking some risk." But, he said, "we have to give peace a chance." Read more at The Associated Press.

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