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article imagePompeo confirms US is ready to withdraw troops from Afhganistan

By Ken Hanly     Jun 26, 2019 in Politics
Kabul - In a surprise visit to Kabul, the Afghan capital, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed that the US is willing to remove troops from Afghanistan after more than 18 years of presence in the country.
Pullout would be part of a peace deal with the Taliban
Pompeo claimed that the US had made it clear to the Taliban that they were prepared to remove US troops. The Taliban have always insisted that the withdrawal of all foreign troops is one of their conditions for signing any peace deal. Pompeo noted that the two sides have not yet agreed upon a timetable for withdrawal.
Pompeo said: "We've made clear to the Taliban that we're prepared to remove our forces. I want to be clear, we've not yet agreed on a timeline to do so."
Pompeo noted that the presence of US troops in Afghanistan was condition-based.
The Taliban last week had claimed that the US had agreed to withdraw. But US officials had contested the announcement at the time. The US emphasizes that the withdrawal must be part of an entire peace agreement and that there is no mutually agreed timetable for withdrawal yet.
As reported in a recent Digital Journal article there is a 7th round of talks with the Taliban this Saturday in Doha, Qatar. No doubt details of a peace agreement and a timetable for withdrawal will be on the agenda.
Broad framework of a deal worked out already
There was broad agreement reached some time ago to the effect that the US would withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan while the Taliban would commit to keep ISIS and Al Qaeda out of the country. There is also to be a permanent ceasefire and reconciliation with the US-backed Afghan government but that is expected later. So far the Taliban have refused to negotiate directly with the present government which it regards as a puppet of the US.
Finalizing a timetable for the US pullout could well help reach agreement on other parts of the peace agreement. The Afghan government has opposed the talks. No doubt the government would like to see reconciliation talks before the US leaves.
As the appended video shows, Pompeo hopes the Afghan war can be finished by the end of September.
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