American and Taliban negotiators met Wednesday in Doha, Qatar, following a conditional decision from President Trump to sign a peace deal with the militants, according to officials.
One US official and an Afghan official briefed on the matter Wednesday said Trump gave his conditional approval to sign a peace deal with the Taliban if the insurgents can demonstrate their commitment to reducing violence in Afghanistan.
‘‘Trump has endorsed the deal and said it must be signed,’’ the Afghan official said, explaining that when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Afghan leaders Tuesday, he said the peace talks ‘‘deadlock’’ had been broken.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the media.
For months US negotiators have demanded a reduction in violence from the Taliban before formal talks can resume. Taliban negotiators presented a violence reduction proposal in January that would have ceased attacks in cities and highways. But it was unclear how long it would last and whether it would apply to the Afghan military as well as US military personnel.
After weeks of back and forth, American and Taliban negotiators have reached an agreement on how exactly violence will be reduced and for how long, according to the Afghan official. However he did not provide further details. People knowledgeable about the negotiations said the reduction would probably be seven to 10 days.
The State Department, in a statement, said ‘‘US talks with the Taliban in Doha continue around the specifics of a reduction in violence.’’
Pompeo told Afghan leaders in phone calls Tuesday that ‘‘notable progress’’ had been made in the peace talks.
Afghan government officials have previously said a cease-fire is a precondition to talks with the Taliban, but both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah expressed optimism about a potential ‘‘reduction in violence,’’ after their separate calls with Pompeo.
Both leaders, however, indicated in statements on Twitter that no final agreement had been reached.
Reducing violence would be seen as an expression of good faith on the part of the Taliban. Once it was over, a more formal US-Taliban agreement could be signed within days. The agreement would include the start of direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government next month, and the beginning of a US troop withdrawal.
Abdullah tweeted that Pompeo had ‘‘expressed optimism that a reduction in violence and progress with current talks could lead to an agreement that would pave the way for intra-Afghan talks leading to durable peace.’’
One person knowledgeable about the negotiations cautioned that it remains unclear what the status of any signed US-Taliban agreement would be if violence resumed after the agreed reduction period, or if promised talks between the militants and the Afghan government did not succeed or even begin. This person spoke on the condition of anonymity about the closed-door negotiations.
In September, US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad announced that a tentative deal had been reached with the Taliban. Trump said he planned to bring Taliban leaders to Camp David to sign it, but he called off the meeting — which the Taliban later said it had not agreed to — as well as further talks, after the militants took credit for an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier.
The draft agreed to at the time included Taliban cooperation in fighting against terrorist groups in Afghanistan, such as the Islamic State, as well as US withdrawal and inter-Afghan talks, with a nationwide cease-fire at the top of the agenda. Trump announced in November that the talks had restarted, but progress was reported to be limited until recently.
Khalilzad met with Ghani in Kabul on Saturday to brief him on recent discussions with the militants and meetings with Pakistani officials, Ghani’s office said.
‘‘We are waiting for a clear answer from the Taliban for a cease-fire or lasting reduction in violence based on a working mechanism which is acceptable to the people of Afghanistan and the US government,’’ his office said.
In last week’s State of the Union address, Trump said that ‘‘the determination and valor of our warfighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress,’’ although US government reports have indicated that the number of Taliban attacks during the last quarter of 2019 were the highest in nearly a decade.
But Trump, who has promised to stop the country’s ‘‘endless wars,’’ said that ‘‘peace talks are now underway’’ and ‘‘we are working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home.’’
Tentative terms for a new US-Taliban agreement are said to be nearly identical to the one in September. It was unclear, however, whether any initial withdrawal would reduce the US force from about 12,000 to the 8,600 already planned without any deal or even lower.
The composition of an Afghan government negotiating team — one of the sticking points of the earlier agreement — also remains uncertain. Afghan officials announced in December that Ghani had won reelection with just over 50 percent in a nationwide September vote, avoiding a second round of voting.
But Abdullah, his estranged governing partner and main opponent, challenged the results.