KABUL (TCA) — The United States has signed a historic agreement with the Taliban aimed at ending the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan.
The agreement signed in Doha, Qatar on February 29 lays out a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after more than 18 years of conflict in return for various security commitments from the insurgents and a pledge to hold talks with the government in Kabul, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported.
The deal was signed by U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, leader of the political wing of the group.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Taliban leaders attended the signing ceremony. Representatives from over two dozen countries and international organizations, among them the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Turkey, were also present at the event.
The agreement was signed following a successful weeklong period of a reduction in violence which was announced on February 22.
According to a joint declaration published by the U.S. and Afghan governments on February 29, the United States and NATO would withdraw all troops in Afghanistan within 14 months if the Taliban upheld the commitments made in the agreement.
With the signing of the US-Taliban agreement, the US’s longest war may finally be nearing an end, more than 18 years since US President George W. Bush ordered the bombing of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.
There are currently around 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan, and it is expected that this will be reduced to 8,600 troops within 135 days.
The Afghan government has also committed to engage diplomatically with members of the UN Security Council to remove members of the Taliban from the sanctions list, no later than May 29, 2020, “and in any case no later than 30 days after finalizing a framework agreement and a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.