As decided in a deal with the Taliban, the US decides to pull troops from five Afghanistan bases, said the US envoy following leading discussions with the insurgents. The Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad said the move will be taken within four months of a final deal. The deal is being considered as the first-ever confirmed details of a much-anticipated agreement. 

Mr. Khalilzad spent about a year negotiating with the Taliban. According to an extract of an interview, the Afghan TV station published on Twitter that Khalilzad told Tolo News, “We have agreed that if the conditions proceed according to the agreement, we will leave within 135 days five bases in which we are present now.” 

The news agency said that that full interview will be broadcast later on Monday. After holding talks with the Taliban in Doha, Khalilzad was in Kabul. He said both sides were at the “threshold” of a deal. On Monday, he met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and showed him the draft of a proposed agreement.

The prospective deal centers on US troop reductions in return for several security guarantees from the Taliban, as well as broader peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government and an eventual ceasefire.

Soon after the deal, near about 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan will leave soon. However, last week, President Donald Trump said America will maintain a permanent presence with 8,600 troops initially after the deal. 

The discussion between Khalilzad and Ghani is very important as it has been largely sidelined from talks. Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told reporters, “The efforts of the US and other partners will yield results when the Taliban enters direct negotiations with the Afghan government.” 

“We hope these efforts will lead to an end to the conflict,” he added. When he was asked to describe the deal he denied and said, “the most important thing is that the Taliban’s violence stops”. Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said in a statement he too had been briefed and assured of “a thorough and sustainable peace in Afghanistan”.

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