New Delhi: After two long years of negotiations, the United States has on Saturday signed the historic peace deal with Taliban ending its longest war in a ceremony in the Qatari capital, Doha. The US has given its word to withdraw the American forces from Afghanistan ‘within 14 months’, nearly 18 years after their deployment in the country. Meanwhile, the Afghan government will initiate the release Taliban insurgents held in captivity. Also Read - Afghanistan: Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Attack on Sikh Gathering at Gurdwara in Kabul, 27 Killed
Addressing the joint peace declaration, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “The United States will reduce the number of US military forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and implement other commitments in the US-Taliban agreement within 135 days of the announcement of this joint declaration and the US-Taliban agreement.” Also Read - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani Orders Release of 5,000 Taliban Inmates
“Effort only became real when the Taliban showed interest in pursuing real peace & ending their relationship with Al-Qaeda & other foreign terrorist groups. The agreement that we will sign today is the true test of this effort,” Pompeo asserted. Also Read - US Rejects Formation of Abdullah's Parallel Government in Afghanistan
The global superpower has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001 when tensions escalated following the 9/11 attack.
Extending support to fight external terror fronts like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, the US stated in its declaration, “The United States of America reaffirms its readiness to continue to conduct military operations in Afghanistan with the consent of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in order to disrupt and degrade efforts by al-Qaeda, ISIS-K and other international terrorist groups or individuals to carry out attacks against the United States or its allies.”
Pompeo said that the US will closely watch the Taliban for their compliance in regards to their commitments and calibrate the pace of withdrawal of US forces with their actions. “This is how we will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a base for international terrorists,” he added.
Notably, the historic signing ceremony witnessed the participation of representatives from at least 30 countries, including India which was represented by P Kumaran, India’s Ambassador to Qatar. This is the first time the country officially attended an event involving the Taliban. India has been a key stakeholder in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The US-Taliban peace talks have been going on since December 2018 after Qatar called for a roadmap for Afghan peace. In September last year, US President Donald Trump had called off peace negotiations with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders after the insurgent group admitted its role behind an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.