The United States has said that its landmark deal with the Taliban is entering its second phase, urging militants to stop violence so that the Afghan peace talks can be held. The two sides signed an agreement in February that saw Washington pledge to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by the middle of next year, in return for the insurgents promising to hold negotiations with the Afghan government to end the decades-old war. On the 135th day, US Special Representative on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated the deal for Washington, tweeted that both sides had reached a ‘key milestone’. “The US has worked hard to carry out 1st phase of its commitments under the agreement, including to reduce troops & depart five bases,” he said.As the deal entered its ‘next phase’, Washington’s approach will be based on certain conditions, Khalilzad warned. “We will press for completion of prisoner releases, reduction of violence […] & start of & progress in intra-Afghan negotiations,” he said. Since the deal was signed, the Taliban have stepped up attacks across much of Afghanistan, killing hundreds.