The United States and its allies will withdraw all forces from Afghanistan within 14 months, Washington and Kabul said in a joint statement on Saturday, AFP reported.
The troops will be reduced to 8,600 within 135 days, after which the US and its partners “will complete the withdrawal of their remaining forces from Afghanistan within 14 months...and will withdraw all their forces from remaining bases”, the declaration said. There are currently around 13,000 American troops in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban, in his capacity as the head of Taliban’s Qatar office, signed a peace agreement in Doha, ToloNews reported. The agreement was signed after a successful week of reduced violence in Afghanistan.
However, the argument is subject to the Taliban keeping up its end of the deal – to hold talks with the Afghan government and fulfil other security commitments.
“Our withdrawal is aligned with this agreement and is conditions-based,” an unidentified senior US administration official said, according to PTI. “If the political settlement fails, if the talks fail, there is nothing that obliges the United States to withdraw troops.” He said that while US President Donald Trump has the prerogative to take any decision on Afghanistan, the peace deal will be honoured as long as the Taliban fulfill their commitments instead of acting in “bad faith”.
Trump wants a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan, the official said. “The president does not seek a permanent commitment of US forces to a war in Afghanistan,” he said. The official added that the US will continue to cooperate with the Afghan government in many ways.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked the Taliban to honour its commitments and sever ties with the Al-Qaeda terrorist group. “I know there will be a temptation to declare victory, but victory for Afghans will only be achieved when they can live in peace and prosper,” he said at the Doha event.
It has been over 18 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan, following the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 that left nearly 3,000 people dead in New York. The US has spent over $750 billion in Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day, reports had said that India would attend the signing of the peace agreement. However, it is unclear whether any Indian government representative was present at the Doha event.