The Afghan government says it has struck its first truce with local Taliban insurgents.
The deal was reached in the remote northwestern Badghis province as
part of efforts to tighten security ahead of presidential elections set
for August 20.
A spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the cease-fire was
established Saturday. It was arranged after negotiations between local
tribal elders and Taliban leaders.
Under the deal, insurgents have agreed to allow election candidates to set up offices without being attacked.
A presidential spokesman says the government hopes to replicate similar deals in other parts of the country.
But Taliban spokesmen denied the deal to news agencies.
The August 20 vote is a key test of U.S. and NATO-backed efforts to
establish democracy in Afghanistan after decades of conflict. Mounting
violence has raised fears that the voting will be marred by unrest.
On Sunday, Afghan officials say one of President Karzai's vice
presidential running mates escaped unharmed after Taliban insurgents
ambushed his convoy.
The officials say Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a former warlord and defense
minister, was traveling in northern Kunduz province when insurgents
Taliban attacks have made July the deadliest month for international
troops in Afghanistan since the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001.