Afghan conflict: US and Taliban sign deal to end 18-year war
International

Afghan conflict: US and Taliban sign deal to end 18-year war

IANS

Doha, February 29, 2020

The US and the Taliban on Saturday signed an agreement aimed at paving the way towards peace in Afghanistan after more than 18 years of conflict.

The US and its Nato allies have agreed to withdraw all their troops from the country within 14 months if the militants uphold the deal, BBC reported.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Taliban leaders attended the signing ceremony in Doha in Qatar.

Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are due to follow.

Under the agreement signed in Doha, the militants also agreed not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.

The US invaded Afghanistan weeks after the September 2001 attacks by the Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda group.

More than 2,400 US troops have been killed during the conflict. About 12,000 are still stationed in the country. US President Donaldn Trump has promised to put an end to the conflict.

This historic deal has been years in the making, as all sides kept seeking advantage on the battlefield.

The agreement is born of America's determination to bring troops home and a recognition, at least by some Taliban, that talks are the best route to return to Kabul.

It's a significant step forward, despite deep uncertainty and scepticism over where it will lead. When the only alternative is unending war, many Afghans seem ready to take this risk for peace.

Taliban leaders say they've changed since their harsh rule of the 1990s still seared in the memory of many, and most of all Afghan women.

This process will test the Taliban, but also veteran Afghan leaders of the past, and a new generation which has come of age in the last two decades and is hoping against hope for a different future.

IANS

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