A preliminary deal was signed Wednesday, one that is the first written agreement in 19 years of war for the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to pursue peace talks with one another.

This is a historic agreement between the two groups and it clarifies the rules of how negotiations are to take place within the coming weeks and months, allowing negotiators to move forward with discussing more pressing issues.

A spokesman for the Taliban confirmed the news on Twitter.  Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, said in a Wednesday tweet that the deal was “a three-page agreement [codifying] rules and procedures for their negotiations on a political roadmap and a comprehensive ceasefire.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Wednesday that the agreement was a “major milestone.””We congratulate both sides on their perseverance and willingness to find common ground,” he said. “This achievement demonstrates that the Afghan Islamic Republic and Taliban are serious, able to overcome differences, and ready to deal with difficult issues.”

Though the Taliban refused a ceasefire during the preliminary stages of peace talks, negotiators are hopeful that Wednesday’s cooperation is a sign that such a deal could be reached. The Taliban are continuing to attack Afghan government forces.

In exchange for some counterterrorism measures from the Taliban, the United States agreed to remove its troops from Afghanistan by May 2021.  In early October, President Trump expressed his desire to have all American troops serving in the nation withdrawn by Christmas.  It is unclear whether such an accelerated timeline will actually be implemented, but the May agreement should be completed.

For additional information you can visit our friends at the Washington Examiner.

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