US, Taliban agreement signed in Qatar

DOHA (Reuters)The United States signed a deal with Afghan Taliban on Saturday that could pave the way toward a full withdrawal of foreign soldiers from Afghanistan.

The deal was signed in the Qatari capital Doha by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on hand to witness the ceremony.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper called the accord a good step but just the beginning.

The United States said it is committed to reducing the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 8,600 — from the current 13,000 — within 135 days of signing the deal, and working with its allies to proportionally reduce the number of coalition forces in Afghanistan over that period, if the Taliban adhere to their commitments.

A full withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition forces would occur within 14 months of the deal getting signed, if the Taliban hold up their end of the deal, the joint statement said

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