Tags: Afghanistan | Al-Qaida | Middle East | Trump Administration | War on Terrorism | taliban | troops

WashPost: US Might Offer to Pull Troops for Taliban Concessions

an american soldier patrols in afghanistan in front of a rock wall and behind barbed wire
(Rahmat Gul/AP)

Thursday, 01 August 2019 09:09 PM

The Trump administration is getting ready to pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in exchange for concessions from the Taliban, including a cease-fire and a renunciation of al-Qaida, as part of an initial deal to end the nearly 18-year-old war, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the agreement — which would require the Taliban to begin negotiating a larger peace deal directly with the Afghan government — could cut the number of U.S. troops in the country from roughly 14,000 to between 8,000 and 9,000.

That number would be nearly the same as when President Donald Trump took office, the Post reported.

The plan has taken shape after months of negotiations between the Taliban and Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-born American diplomat who was appointed by the Trump administration last year to jumpstart talks. Officials said an agreement could be finalized ahead of the Afghan presidential election in September, though they cautioned Taliban leaders could delay and significant challenges remain.

"I would say that they are 80 or 90% of the way there," one unnamed official told the Post. "But there is still a long way to go on that last 10 or 20%."

A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, declined to comment about the likelihood of an initial agreement.

"We are hopeful," he told the Post. "Things look promising that there will be a breakthrough. We hope there won't be any obstacle, but it also depends on the seriousness of the Americans."

Additional cuts to U.S. forces would be negotiated as part of discussions involving the Taliban and the Afghan government, U.S. officials told the Post.

The Taliban has refused to talk with the Afghan government, which it calls a puppet regime, until it reaches a deal with the United States on its troops.

A Pentagon spokesman, Cmdr. Sean Robertson, told the Post the Defense Department has not been ordered to withdraw forces from Afghanistan — a point that other officials describing the potential deal also stressed.

"Our strategy in Afghanistan is conditions-based," Robertson told the Post. "Our troops will remain in Afghanistan at appropriate levels so long as their presence is required to safeguard U.S. interests."

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As part of an initial deal to end the nearly 18-year-old war, the Trump administration is getting ready to pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in exchange for concessions from the Taliban, including a cease-fire and a renunciation of al-Qaida, The Washington Post reported.
taliban, troops, withdrawal, longest american war
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2019-09-01
Thursday, 01 August 2019 09:09 PM
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