U.S. & Taliban reach peace deal, troop withdrawal from Afghanistan expected to start
UPDATE: 8:54 a.m.
According to the New York Times, the U.S. and Taliban have signed a peace deal that will see U.S. troops return to America as long as certain safety markers are met.
The deal could still fall apart if the Taliban does not hold up its obligations, but a timeline of a full U.S. withdrawal is outlined.
There are roughly 13,000 American troops still in Afghanistan.
The war there has lasted 19 years, making it the longest conflict in U.S. history.
This is still a developing story.
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
Afghan Taliban leaders are expected to sign a peace deal in Doha on Saturday with the United States to end the 19-year-old war through negotiations, after years of on-again, off-again talks.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would be attending the event in the Qatari capital, US President Donald Trump confirmed on Friday, urging Afghans “to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future.”
In a statement, Trump said the US was “making substantial progress” on his pledge to end the country’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan and bring troops home after more than 19 years.
There is no official word on the content of the agreement so far, but reports suggested that the Taliban would initiate talks with the Afghan government under a process called intra-Afghan dialogue.
Delegates from at least 19 countries and six international organisations, including the United Nations, NATO and the European Union, were invited for the ceremony, Qatari officials said.
Taliban leaders pledged their commitment to peace ahead of the expected signing. “It is going to be a brighter day for Afghanistan,” said Mullah Abdul Salam Hanafi, a member of the Taliban political office in Qatar’s capital Doha, where the deal is set to be signed.
“We will satisfy everybody. Violence from both sides was past. We have come here with open heart,” said Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of top Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani, on Friday.
The deal is being signed after years of on-again, off-again talks between US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad and the political office the Taliban set up in 2013 to initiate dialogue with the world.
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