• The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, leading to the ouster of the the Taliban government, which was accused of harboring Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida organization
  • Taliban officials say they still don't trust the U.S. government but want the killing to stop
  • An agreement is to be signed Feb. 29 if the reduction in violence plan holds for a week

Update: 4:15 p.m. EST

The truce took effect at 2:30 p.m. EST, the Associated Press reported.

Original story

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday announced an “understanding” had been reached with the Taliban, opening the way for a peace agreement in Afghanistan.

Pompeo announced the development on Twitter during his trip to Saudi Arabia.

“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across #Afthanistan,” Pompeo wrote, calling on “all Afghans to seize this opportunity.”

The United States has had troops in Afghanistan since October 2001 when it invaded in response to the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington that left nearly 3,000 dead, and an estimated 12,000 troops remain in what has become the U.S.’s longest war. The action toppled the Taliban government, which the U.S. accused of harboring al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden. More than 2,200 U.S. troops have died in the hostilities, 17 last year.

A State Department press release said in recent weeks Afghan and U.S. negotiators have been meeting with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, and made significant progress on peace talks, leading to an agreement on a reduction in violence that is to be implemented within hours. A tentative agreement is to be signed Feb. 29, opening the way for negotiations on a permanent ceasefire and “future political roadmap.”

“The only way to achieve a sustainable peace in Afghanistan is for Afghans to come together and agree on the way forward,” the press release said, cautioning that “challenges remain.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last week on the sidelines of a security forum in Munich, Germany and announced agreement on a seven-day truce.

A New York Times op-ed Thursday by deputy Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani warned his group does not fully trust the U.S. government but wants to prevent “disruptive groups” from using Afghanistan as a staging area for attacks throughout the region.

“Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop,” Haqqani wrote.

“We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves. The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand. That we today stand at the threshold of a peace agreement with the United States is no small milestone.”

President Trump has long sought to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan, an issue that has divided his administration.