The United States will be withdrawing troops from five bases in Afghanistan within 135 days under the draft agreement between the US and the Taliban, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad Tolo News during an interview.
Earlier today, the US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad showed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani the draft of an agreement between the United States and the Taliban. The agreement is expected to clear the way for a phased US troop withdrawal.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat who has completed nine rounds of talks with Taliban representatives, is meeting Afghan leaders in Kabul this week to build a consensus before the deal is signed.
The agreement is expected to include a staggered withdrawal of US forces from their longest-ever war in exchange for a Taliban commitment that they will not allow Afghanistan to be used by militants to plot attacks on the United States and its allies.
Talking to TOLOnews, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad says according to a draft agreement between the US and the Taliban, American forces will leave five bases within 135 days. Full interview tonight at 9pm on TOLOnews. pic.twitter.com/60eXcN9kaJ— TOLOnews (@TOLOnews) September 2, 2019
Ghani's government has been shut out of the talks as the militants refuse to recognize it, dismissing it as a US puppet. But as part of the deal, the Taliban are expected to make a commitment to open power-sharing talks with the US-backed government and work towards a ceasefire.
Ghani will consider the draft and share his views on it with Khalilzad within two days, sources with knowledge of the negotiations told Reuters. Khalilzad said on the weekend final agreement was close.
"We are at the threshold of an agreement that will reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together to negotiate an honorable and sustainable peace and a unified, sovereign Afghanistan that does not threaten the United States, its allies, or any other country," he said in a Twitter post.
The talks have progressed against a backdrop of relentless violence.
(With inputs from agencies)