US & Taliban sign peace deal to end 18-year war

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The US and the Taliban have signed an agreement aimed at paving the way towards peace in Afghanistan after more than 18 years of conflict, BBC reported today. Accordingly, it said the US and Nato allies have agreed to withdraw all their troops from the Afghanistan within 14 months if the militants uphold the deal. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Taliban leaders attended the signing ceremony in Doha, Qatar. Talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban are due to follow, BBC said. Under the agreement signed in Doha, the militants also agreed not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control. The US invaded Afghanistan weeks after the September 2001 attacks in New York by the Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda group. More than 2,400 US troops have been killed during the conflict. About 12,000 are still stationed in the country. President Trump has promised to put an end to the conflict. The deal was signed by US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar with Mr Pompeo as a witness. In a speech, Mr Pompeo urged the militant group to “keep your promises to cut ties with al-Qaeda”. Mr Baradar said he hoped Afghanistan could now emerge from four decades of conflict. “I hope that with the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan the Afghan nation under an Islamic regime will take its relief and embark on a new prosperous life,” he said. Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper was in the Afghan capital Kabul alongside Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani – whose government did not take part in the US-Taliban talks. Mr Esper said: “This is a hopeful moment, but it is only the beginning. The road ahead will not be easy. Achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan will require patience and compromise among all parties.” He said the US would continue to support the Afghan Government.