KABUL: The US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad has said that the United States will withdraw almost 5,000 troops from Afghanistan and close five bases within 135 days under a draft peace accord agreement with the Taliban.
Zalmay Khalilzad, who has spent about a year negotiating with the Taliban, said that the draw-down would occur within about four months of a final deal being approved, provided the Taliban stick to their commitments.
Khalilzad was in Kabul following the latest round of talks with the Taliban in Doha, after which he said the two sides were at the “threshold” of a deal. He met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and showed him the draft of a proposed agreement on Monday.
In his interview, Khalilzad told a private news channel in Afghanistan, “We have agreed that if the conditions proceed according to the agreement, we will leave within 135 days the 5 bases in which we are present now.”
The prospective deal centres on US troop reductions in return for several security guarantees from the Taliban, as well as broader peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government leading to an eventual ceasefire.
Nonetheless, even if many of the 13,000 or so US troops in Afghanistan leave soon after the deal, President Donald Trump last week said America would maintain a permanent presence with 8,600 troops initially- even after a deal is reached with the Taliban.
Khalilzad, a veteran Afghan-American diplomat said the aim of the deal was to end the war leading to a reduction in violence. However, there was no formal ceasefire agreement as of yet.
Khalilzad, who has completed nine rounds of talks with Taliban representatives, is scheduled to hold meetings with a number of Afghan leaders in Kabul this week to build a consensus before the deal is signed.
Trump has made little secret of his desire to bring the roughly 14,000 troops home from Afghanistan, where American troops have been deployed since a US-led campaign overthrew the Taliban in 2001.
Read also: Will limit troops in Afghanistan to 8,600: Trump
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