Business Standard

Pace of US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan conditions-based: WH

Image

Press Trust of India Washington
The pace of American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan is conditions-based and will depend on how well the Taliban comply with the commitments they have made, the White House said on Saturday after the US and the militant group signed a landmark peace deal in Doha.
As part of its efforts to bring lasting peace in the war-torn Afghanistan, the US signed the historic deal with the Taliban in presence of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
An agreement has been reached with the Taliban that secures important commitments that are necessary to finally end the conflict in Afghanistan. While work remains, this progress provides a historic opportunity for peace, the White House said in a statement.
"The pace of removal for American troops stationed in Afghanistan is conditions-based and will depend on how well the Taliban comply with the commitments they have made," it said.
"Through our negotiations, America has secured strong commitments from the Taliban to permanently sever their ties to international terrorists. As the agreement is implemented, we will be watching closely and making determinations about compliance based on our own judgment and the safety of our personnel," the White House said.
The US will begin reducing the number of troops, while sustaining a counterterrorism force to continue dismantling terrorist groups that seek to attack America, the White House said.
As per the released text of the agreement, the US is committed to withdraw from Afghanistan all its military forces, its allies, and coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel within 14 months following announcement of the deal.
As part of this, the US committed that it and its coalition partners within 135 days of the agreement will reduce the number of US forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and proportionally bring reduction in the number of its allies and coalition forces.
The United States, its allies, and the coalition will withdraw all their forces from five military bases, it said.
The US also agreed to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, whereas the latter will release 1,000 prisoners by March 10, 2020, the first day of intra-Afghan negotiations. The rest of the prisoners will be released over the next three months.
In its statement, the White House said that President Donald Trump was fulfilling his promise to bring "our troops home from endless wars overseas by working toward peace in Afghanistan".
Following a successful 7-day reduction in violence in Afghanistan, the US is taking decisive steps towards a negotiated peace in Afghanistan, it said, adding that the US and Afghan governments will be issuing a joint declaration reaffirming our strong partnership, including their continued support for Afghan security forces.
"An agreement has been reached with the Taliban that secures important commitments that are necessary to finally end the conflict in Afghanistan. While work remains, this progress provides a historic opportunity for peace," it said.
Asserting that the administration will ensure that Afghan soil can never again be used to threaten American lives, the White House said it will always do what is necessary to ensure the safety and security of the American people.
Observing that this is a historic opportunity to forge lasting peace in Afghanistan, it said ultimately, it is the people of Afghanistan who must come together to achieve lasting peace for their future.
"For its part, the government of Afghanistan has committed to establishing an inclusive national team to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations," it said.
"The Taliban have committed to enter negotiations with the Afghan government, its political leaders, and Afghan civil society, including women. Based on these announcements, we call on all sides to continue to reduce violence in Afghanistan as all sides come together to write a roadmap for their country's future," it said.
In the meantime, the US will continue working with allies and partners to monitor the situation and preserve the gains of the last 19 years, the White House said.
The 18-year-long Afghan war has killed tens of thousands of civilians and Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Some 2.5 million Afghans are registered as refugees abroad and another two million are displaced within their country.
The war has cost the US taxpayer more than USD 1 trillion in military and rebuilding costs since the US-led invasion of 2001.
More than 100,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured over the past decade, according to the United Nations.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Feb 29 2020 | 10:00 PM IST

Explore News