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After more than 18 years of fighting in Afghanistan and many missed opportunities, the United States and the Taliban are on the verge of signing a conditional peace agreement. As a prelude to the deal, both parties began a voluntary seven-day reduction in violence on February 22. So far, the lull in the fighting has held. While an accord with the Taliban entails a number of risks, such dangers are to be expected in a complicated peace process, and they should not obscure the fact that the agreement is Washington’s best hope of ending the longest American war.
The deal on the table in Afghanistan is the culmination of peace talks that began in September 2018, when Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, opened a dialogue with the Taliban Political Commission. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump saw bilateral talks that excluded the government of Afghan