• Peace negotiations began in July 2018
  • The agreement could open the way for the U.S. to begin withdrawing troops, which have been in the country since October 2001
  • President Trump has agreed to the pact in principle

The United States and Taliban reportedly reached a truce Friday that could lead to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A senior U.S. official at the Munich Security Conference told the Associated Press the seven-day agreement would take effect “very soon” and be followed by peace talks covering the entire country to set its political future.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper are attending the conference and met Friday with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the security forum. U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. Scott Miller, who heads the international military force in Afghanistan, also attended the meeting.

The official said President Trump has agreed to the deal in principle. Final details were worked out in Doha, Qatar, by Khalilzad, Taliban negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

The Taliban earlier this week issued an ultimatum, threatening to walk away from the negotiating table if the U.S. did not respond to its offer of a seven-day pause to hostilities rather than a full ceasefire that would blunt their battlefield progress should the U.S. or Kabul renege on any deal. U.S. officials denied the ultimatum had forced their hand.

U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan since Oct. 7, 2001, sent in the wake of the 9/11 al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people. Then-President George W. Bush blamed Osama bin Laden for orchestrating the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and targeted the Taliban, which had been in control of the Afghan government since 1996, for harboring bin Laden and his followers.

Direct peace talks began in July 2018 without the Afghan government’s involvement. A peace summit set for Sept. 11, the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, at Camp David was canceled following the death of a U.S. soldier in a car bombing in Kabul.