Published: Sun, August 04, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Taliban agreement would see US Afghan troop presence hugely reduced

Taliban agreement would see US Afghan troop presence hugely reduced

Officials reportedly said an agreement could be finalized before Afghanistan's elections in September.

A crucial round of talks between the US and Afghan Taliban has resumed in Doha, the capital of Qatar on Saturday to end the 18-year conflict in Afghanistan.

"Just got to Doha to resume talks with the Taliban". Citing anonymous United States officials, the agreement would reputedly require the Taliban to begin negotiating a larger peace deal directly with the Afghan government.

Khalilzad noted that the Taliban had signaled that it would like to conclude an agreement with the USA and that the Washington was also ready for a "good agreement".

U.S. officials believe an agreement could be finalised before the Afghan presidential election in September.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the group is "hopeful".

"The issue of forces withdrawal has prolonged the peace talks and delayed the deal", a senior Taliban commander based in Afghanistan told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

He is also scheduled to meet Pakistani civil and military authorities to review the progress in the Afghan peace talks. And a negotiation team and technical support group are being finalised,"he had tweeted".

The Taliban now controls more territory than at any point since the United States bombed them out of power in 2001.

The insurgents control more territory now than at any point since the US-led worldwide coalition toppled their regime in 2001.

Trump said that USA forces, bogged down for almost two decades, "could win Afghanistan in two days or three days or four days, but I'm not looking to kill 10 million people".

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that an initial deal to end the war would see the USA force in Afghanistan reduced to as low as 8,000 from the current level of around 14,000.

Afghan forces have suffered devastating casualties - in the tens of thousands - since they assumed responsibility for their country's security at the end of 2014.

The Trump administration has undertaken eight rounds of negotiations with the Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001, led by envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born former USA ambassador to Kabul. More than 1,500 civilians were killed and injured in July, a record monthly toll this year, and the highest number documented in a month since May 2017, United Nations of Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a statement on Saturday.

However, Defence Department spokesperson Commander Rebecca Rebarich told The Hill in a statement that department had not been directed to withdraw forces.

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