Trump says US troops will start leaving Afghanistan immediately
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
- President Donald Trump said Saturday afternoon that US troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan immediately.
- "Today, they'll start immediately," Trump said of US plans.
- The US and the Taliban signed a conditional peace agreement Saturday morning that could bring about an end to America's war in Afghanistan.
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Hours after the US and the Taliban signed a landmark agreement aimed at ending America's war in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump said that he plans to start pulling troops out of Afghanistan immediately.
"Everybody's tired of war," Trump said at a White House press briefing Saturday afternoon, adding that the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan, America's longest-running war, has "been a particularly long and gruesome one."
The US and the Taliban signed a conditional peace agreement Saturday morning.
The US has agreed to begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan as long as the Taliban upholds its commitment to "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 accord states that the US will, assuming the Taliban lives up to its end of the deal, 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, will withdraw all remaining forces from Afghanistan within 14 months.
"I will be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not too distant future," the president said at the briefing Saturday afternoon, adding that he's "very much hoping that they will be doing what they say they're going to be doing."
Trump made plans to meet with the Taliban at Camp David last fall, but he canceled the meeting after a US soldier was killed in Afghanistan in a Taliban attack.
The president told reporters at the White House that he expects the Taliban, a militant group the US went to war with in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qa'ida, to pick up the fight against ISIS and other terrorist organizations.
"They will be killing terrorists. They will be killing some very bad people. They will keep that fight going," he said.
"We've destroyed in Syria and Iraq, 100% of the ISIS caliphate, 100%," the president continued. "We have thousands of prisoners. We've killed ISIS fighters by the thousands and likewise in Afghanistan. But, now it's time for somebody else to do that work. And that'll be the Taliban."
He also suggested that other countries in the region could pick up the slack.
The conditional peace agreement signed Saturday is the first step toward ending America's involvement in a conflict that has raged for nearly two decades and claimed the lives of roughly 2,400 US service members.
"This is a hopeful moment, but it is only the beginning," Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Saturday. "The road ahead will not be easy. Achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan will require patience and compromise among all parties. 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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