Tuesday 17 September 2019

US to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

Under the deal, after the first tranche of 5,000 troops has left, the rest of the 14,000-strong US contingent will leave the country over 15 months or more (stock photo)
Under the deal, after the first tranche of 5,000 troops has left, the rest of the 14,000-strong US contingent will leave the country over 15 months or more (stock photo)

Ben Farmerlin

The US has agreed in principle to withdraw 5,000 troops from five military bases in Afghanistan over 20 weeks.

The move is part of a deal with the Taliban designed to kick-start talks with the Afghan government.

The accord, which could be announced as early as tomorrow, would see US troops begin to pull back from their longest ever conflict, in return for a reduction in Taliban attacks and the start of formal negotiations with Ashraf Ghani's government.

The deal, brokered over nine rounds of talks in Doha, has yet to be signed off by Donald Trump and Mr Ghani was last night consulting with officials after being shown the draft.

Nato allies will also be briefed, but Western officials familiar with the talks said the go-ahead could be given as early as tomorrow or Thursday.

"Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle," Zalmay Khalilzad, the top US negotiator, told Tolo news.

"Of course, it is not final until the US president agrees on it.

"So, at the moment, we are at that stage."

Sources briefed on talks stressed the withdrawal would be "conditions-based", with an insistence that Taliban attacks reduce significantly and almost immediately. The Taliban has so far refused a complete ceasefire.

Under the deal, after the first tranche of 5,000 troops has left, the rest of the 14,000-strong US contingent will leave the country over 15 months or more.

Irish Independent

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