Pompeo: US prepares to sign troop withdrawal deal with Taliban on February 29
Iran Press TV
Friday, 21 February 2020 3:28 PM
The United States and the Afghan Taliban militant group have agreed to sign a peace deal at the end of February aimed at ending America's longest war.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban issued statements on Friday saying they had agreed to sign the deal on February 29 in the Qatari capital, Doha, following the one-week partial truce.
Pompeo said that the deal will be finalized only if a week-long cessation of hostility holds in Afghanistan.
"Upon a successful implementation of this understanding, signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to move forward," Pompeo said, adding negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government would "start soon thereafter".
Afghanistan's National Security Council spokesman Javed Faisal and Taliban militants earlier said the "reduction in violence" between the United States, Taliban and Afghan security forces would start on February 22.
The two sides have been in talks over the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in return for security guarantees from the militant group.
Washington's decision to exclude Kabul from the peace talks has also received a firestorm of rebukes from the Afghan government.
In September, the US and the Taliban appeared close to signing a deal that would have seen Washington begin withdrawing thousands of troops in return for security guarantees and potentially end almost two decades of war in Afghanistan.
It was also expected to pave the way towards direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul. The Taliban have been saying they do not recognize the Afghan government, which has so far been kept out of previous US-Taliban talks.
Trump ended yearlong talks with the Taliban in September. The negotiations were aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan.
The US president said at the time that the decision to end the talks was his response to a deadly bomb blast by the militants that killed 12 people in the Afghan capital of Kabul on September 5, including an American soldier.
During a surprise visit to a US military base in Afghanistan last week, Trump said the Taliban "wants to make a deal."
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.
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