By Associated Press |
The United States and the Taliban have agreed to sign a peace deal next week aimed at ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan and bringing US troops home, wrapping up America’s longest-running conflict and fulfilling one of President Donald Trump’s main campaign promises.
The planned February 29 signing depends on the success of a week-long nationwide “reduction in violence” agreement in which all sides have committed to end attacks.
It is due to start at midnight Friday local time (1930 GMT), according to an Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media.
Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, speaks to the media in Moscow, Russia in 2019. (AP)
The announcement follows months of negotiations between the two sides that have broken down before. Yet both parties have signalled a desire to halt the fighting that began with the US invasion after the September 11, 2001, attacks by Osama bin Laden’s Afghanistan-based al-Qaida network.
Should the truce stand, the US-Taliban deal would be followed within 10 days by the start of all-Afghan peace talks that could result in the formation of a new government in Kabul, a pledge from the Taliban not to allow terrorist groups to operate in the country, and the phased withdrawal of US and other foreign troops over 18 months.