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US ready to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan for Taliban peace deal, report says

Afghan provincial governors and members of the High Peace Council, an organization set up to promote peace talks with the Taliban, gather Dec. 6, in Kandahar City, Afghanistan, to talk about reintegrating former Taliban into society. (Spc. Edward A. Garibay, 16th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment/U.S. Army)
August 01, 2019

The Pentagon is readying a plan to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in an initial deal with the Taliban, a new report revealed.

U.S. officials confirmed the plan to The Washington Post Thursday evening, noting that the withdrawal will only take place if the Taliban agrees to a peace deal.

The peace deal reportedly includes “a cease-fire and a renunciation of al-Qaeda” as part of concessions from the Taliban, while the U.S. would withdraw 5,000-6,000 troops, according to The Washington Post.

The officials believe the plan could be finalized before September when the Afghan presidential election is held.

“I would say that they are 80 or 90 percent of the way there,” said one official, who spoke anonymously to The Washington Post. “But there is still a long way to go on that last 10 or 20 percent.”

The plan has formulated following months of negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan-born U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been spearheading the peace talks since his appointment by the Trump Administration last year.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid refused to comment on the possibility of a first deal with the U.S., but noted that the Taliban remains hopeful for a deal.

“We are hopeful,” he told The Washington Post. “Things look promising that there will be a breakthrough. We hope there won’t be any obstacle, but it also depends on the seriousness of the Americans.”

Khalilzad called his latest Afghan negotiations his “most productive,” saying, “Wrapping up my most productive visit to #Afghanistan since I took this job as Special Rep. The US and Afghanistan have agreed on next steps. And a negotiating team and technical support group are being finalized” in a tweet on Wednesday.

“I’m off to Doha, with a stop in Islamabad. In Doha, if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement we have been working on,” Khalilzad added.