The Taliban revealed on Monday that a peace deal with the United States will be signed by the end of the month, with the top U.S. negotiator describing himself as “cautiously optimistic” about the process. Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi, a senior Taliban leader and member of the political commission in Doha, Qatar, disclosed in a video message shared with journalists that after negotiations, “both sides have initiated the final draft of the peace agreement. Now talks are concluded.”
This is the first official statement released by the Taliban since the United States announced a peace deal with the movement on Friday. Hanafi said “both sides have agreed to sign the agreement by the end of this month,” after making a “favorable environment before signing of the agreement.” What Hanafi seems to be describing is what U.S. negotiators and Afghan government officials are calling a period of reduced violence that approximates a cease-fire and will last seven days. Hanafi gave no further details on what a favorable environment would entail. American and Afghans officials have also been tight-lipped regarding details of the violence reduction. In his first public comments since the peace talks breakthrough, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief negotiator with the Taliban, said he’s “cautiously optimistic.” “But I am realistic enough to know that there are lots of challenges ahead,” he added.