NEW DELHI: The U.S. and the Taliban have agreed to a seven-day “reduction in violence”. The deal can potentially set the stage for a more lasting and long-sought peace deal. At NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper has said the arrangement, which he did not describe as a ceasefire, came after over a year of negotiations with the Taliban. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also welcomed what he called “a pretty important breakthrough” in Afghan peace talks. The U.S.-Taliban deal is expected to be signed in Doha on February 29, followed by intra-Afghan talks on March 10. The agreement is expected to also announce a phased, conditional U.S. troop withdrawal over 18 months.
India’s ex-Ambassador to Afghanistan Vivek Katju and StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P. Revi discuss what the contours of the deal seem to be, how President Donald Trump may reward Pakistan and what that means for India. Ambassador Katju also talks about the political dynamics in Kabul, the nomenclature of a reduction in violence vs a ceasefire and what any backroom deal or secret annexes to the deal will mean to the peace process. The ex-envoy is also adamant that India should not send any boots on the ground to Afghanistan (as reported on StratNews Global) even under a UN flag. If and when the Taliban are in any joint Afghan governance authority, Ambassador Katju feels they will be for intense security cooperation with India.
Vivek Katju has also been Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and Ambassador to Thailand and Myanmar (Burma).