UNITED NATIONS, Feb 18 (APP):UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been closely following talks between the United States and the Taliban about a ‘significant reduction’ of violence in Afghanistan, aimed at opening the way for intra-Afghan peace negotiations, according to his spokesman.

“During his visit to Islamabad, he (Guterres) expressed his sincere wishes that such talks are successful and lead to an Afghan-led peace process,” Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement issued at UN Headquarters in New York.

“He reiterated the United Nations’ readiness to provide any assistance that the parties may
require,’ the statement added.

Last week , President Donald Trump said the US was close to signing a deal with the Taliban to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, the first time he has said so since talks fell apart last September, when both sides were on the cusp of a deal.

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On Saturday, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani voiced cautious optimism about a partial
truce agreed between the Taliban and US and said that a further announcement was expected in the coming 10 days.