The United States will withdraw about 5000 troops from five bases in Afghanistan within 135 days if Taliban meets conditions set in the draft agreement reached upon by the two sides during the latest round of peace talks, Washington's peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Monday. In an interview to Tolo News following the conclusion of peace talks, Khalilzad said that the US and Taliban have reached an agreement "in principle", which now awaits the approval of President Donald Trump.
"Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle," said Khalilzad. Of course, it is not final until the US president agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage." The two sides have held nine rounds of peace talks in the past ten months over the agreement which is broadly centred around the withdrawal of US troops in exchange for the guarantee by the Taliban that the Afghan soil, particularly areas under the group's control, would not become a platform for transnational terrorism. In addition, the agreement would pave the way for the initiation of intra-Afghan peace talks.
The US currently has about 14,000 service members in Afghanistan, and the move would reduce troop levels to one of the lowest points in the history of the 18-year long war. The figure had swelled to nearly 100,000 at the highest mark in 2011 and dipped to 8,300 in 2017, reported USA Today. The chief US negotiator further said in the interview that Washington would not accept the return of Islamic emirate, the term used for the Taliban's governance system.
The news of the agreement was followed hours later by a car bomb explosion in capital Kabul that claimed the lives of 5 people and injured 50 others. The Taliban has claimed the responsibility of the attack, saying that it was targetted at "foreign forces". (ANI)
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