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Pompeo: Agreement Expected Soon to Start Peace Talks with Taliban

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is expecting the US and the Taliban to sign a document on February 29 agreeing to undertake intra-Afghan peace talks following a “significant and nationwide reduction in violence across Afghanistan.” According to Taliban and Afghani government officials, a seven-day trial period for reduced violence is to begin at midnight on Friday. In a statement issued earlier in the day, Pompeo said the intra-Afghan talks “will build on this fundamental step to deliver a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire and the future political roadmap for Afghanistan.” The US, which heads an international coalition in Afghanistan, has had troops in the West Asian country for the past 18 years fighting what is being called America’s longest war. Earlier in the day, State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus announced that during his recent swing through the Middle East, Pompeo met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two discussed numerous regional issues, Ortagus said, including the “continuing threat posed by the Iranian regime.” He added that Pompeo “assured the crown prince that the United States stands with Saudi Arabia in the face of these threats, as reflected in our greater military presence in Saudi Arabia.”