The United States signed on Saturday a historic peace agreement with Afghanistan’s Taliban in Qatar’s capital Doha that includes Taliban reduction of violence and withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
According to a joint statement released by the U.S. and Afghan governments on Saturday ahead of the signing, the U.S. and NATO will completely pull out their troops from Afghanistan in 14 months if the Taliban held its commitments.
The statement said that the U.S. is going to reduce its troops in Afghanistan from about 13,000 to 8,600 within 135 days after signing the agreement.
Further withdrawal will depend on Taliban’s meeting of conditions related to counter-terrorism.
The historic deal could be the first step towards full withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan within 14 months to end 18 years of violence in the chaos-stricken country.
The agreement also includes release of thousands of prisoners and lifting sanctions on Taliban members by August this year.
The deal was reached after more than a year and half of negotiations behind closed doors hosted by Qatar.
Witnessed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, the agreement was signed by U.S. special peace envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban’s political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The signing ceremony was also attended by representatives of about 30 states and international organizations including the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
U.S. President Donald Trump said a day before signing the deal that “we will have a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home.”
Peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban began in 2018 but were suspended late last year following Taliban attacks on U.S. military personnel.
The war in Afghanistan is the longest one in U.S. history. The death toll of U.S. service members has surpassed 2,400 since America invaded Afghanistan in 2001. Enditem