Per Fox News, the United States signed a historic peace treaty with Taliban militants on Saturday, aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke cautiously in front of Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar, calling the agreement a “true test” of their commitment to peace.
The Hill reports with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo watching over, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban’s political chief, Abdul Ghani Baradar, signed a deal in Doha, Qatar, to begin the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
In exchange, the Taliban is assuring it will not allow Afghanistan to be used by terrorists to attack the United States.
Despite the milestone, a long road remains before peace in Afghanistan, including intra-Afghan talks where the entire deal still has the potential to collapse.
“This is how we will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a base for international terrorists,” Pompeo said ahead of the deal signing.
“We’re just at the beginning. Furthering the cause of peace will require serious work and sacrifice by all sides,” he added. “This agreement will mean nothing and today’s good feelings will not last if we don’t take concrete actions on commitments and promises that have been made.”
The United States and the Taliban have been at war in Afghanistan since after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by al Qaeda operatives harbored by the Taliban.
President Trump campaigned on ending America’s so-called endless wars and had made reaching a deal with the Taliban a top foreign policy priority heading into his 2020 reelection campaign.
Saturday’s agreement was signed after a seven day “reduction in violence” agreement that was deemed largely successful by U.S. officials. The partial truce was not a full ceasefire, something the intra-Afghan negotiations will now try to work out.
“It was not perfect, but the Taliban demonstrated, even if only for a week, that when they have the will to be peaceful, they can be,” Pompeo said.
Under the deal signed Saturday, the United States will draw down from the 12,000 troops in Afghanistan now to 8,600 troops in 135 days. The remaining troops will continue to fight terrorist groups such as al Qaeda and ISIS.
The deal calls for a full withdrawal in 14 months if the Taliban lives up to its commitments.
The Taliban, in turn, “will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies,” the agreement says.