After 18 months of negotiations, the US officials and the Taliban representatives signed an agreement on 29 February at Doha, Qatar, to end the longest war fought in Afghanistan since 2001.
The US Special Representative, Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar signed the agreement in the presence of the representatives from the countries like Qatar, Pakistan, Turkey, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, India and Tajikistan. This agreement will initiate the formal withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan.
- The agreement has four points that mainly include, a timeline of 14 months for the withdrawal of all the US and NATO troops from Afghanistan. Second, the drawdown process will begin with the US limiting its armed forces to 8,600 from 13,000 in the first 135 days and reducing it from five bases. Third, the agreement upholds a ‘Taliban guarantee’ that the Afghan soil will not be used as a launch pad that would threaten the security of the US. Last, the agreement will pave the path for an intra-Afghan negotiation by 10 March. This will aim at negotiating a permanent cease-fire and a power-sharing agreement between the rival Afghan groups. The agreement also proposes the release of 5,000 Taliban members from prison, in exchange for 1,000 Afghan security forces held by the Taliban.
- The Afghan government will also begin negotiations with the Taliban for a political settlement which would establish the role that the Taliban would come to play in the future. These negotiations are expected to start in March 2020. One of the primary aims of the intra-Afghan dialogue is to achieve a lasting ceasefire in the country.
- In Kabul, the US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg signed a joint declaration with the Afghan government, represented by President Ashraf Ghani. This declaration commits the Afghans to these up-coming negotiations with the Taliban and to provide Afghanistan with security guarantees as this process unfolds.