Seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan to begin, US announces

By Ehsan Popalzai, Nick Paton Walsh and Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

    (CNN) -- A seven-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, negotiated by the US and the Taliban, is set to begin Friday night local time, the US State Department announced.

"After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan. This is an important step on a long road to peace, and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Friday morning.

The US is aiming for a peace deal to help execute President Donald Trump's desire to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan. The first step is expected to reduce the current level of troops from 12-13,000 to 8,600.

The ceasefire period will allow the US-Taliban agreement to be signed by February 29, as long as the reduction in violence is successful.

Two Afghan officials also confirmed the start date to CNN.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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