US signs historic deal with Taliban that could bring an end to America's war in Afghanistan

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader shack hands after signing a peace agreement between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

AP Photo/Hussein Sayed

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group's top political leader shack hands after signing a peace agreement between Taliban and U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.

  • The US and the Taliban signed a conditional peace agreement Saturday that could see the steady withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the end of America's longest-running war.
  • The agreement, which follows a seven-day reduction in violence, commits the US to cutting the number of troops in Afghanistan down to 8,600 within the first 135 days and removing all remaining troops within 14 months of the signing.
  • The Taliban, however, must "not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qa'ida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies."
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The US and the Taliban signed a historic agreement Saturday meant to finally bring an end to the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, America's longest-running war.

After more than a year of challenging negotiations amid continued bloodshed in Afghanistan, US Special Representative Zalmay Khalizad, the chief US negotiator, and head of the Taliban's negotiating team, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, signed the agreement in Doha, Qatar.
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The signing follows a seven-day reduction in violence, a test to determine if peace was even a possibility.

"Over the past week, we have observed a significant reduction in violence, which has created the necessary conditions for the United States to approve an agreement with the Taliban," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Saturday in Kabul, Afghanistan ahead of the signing.

The conditional agreement signed Saturday, which could lead to a permanent peace accord, states that the US will cut the number of American troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 in the first 135 days. The US, as well as its allies and coalition partners, are expected to remove all remaining forces from Afghanistan within 14 months on the signing.
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The US has also committed to working with all relevant parties on a prisoner exchange.

A major condition of the agreement is that the Taliban must "not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qa'ida, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies."The war in Afghanistan began Oct. 7, 2001 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which were executed by al-Qa'ida militants.
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who witnessed the signing Saturday, said that the US "will closely watch the Taliban's compliance with their commitments, and calibrate the pace of our withdrawal to their actions.

"This is how (we) will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves for international terrorists," he added.

"This is a hopeful moment, but it is only the beginning. The road ahead will not be easy. Achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan will require patience and compromise among all parties," Esper said Saturday, adding, "We look forward to the coming weeks and months with great optimism, as we advance these important efforts to finally achieve peace."
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