Thu, 02 Apr 2020

Washington [US], Feb 29 (ANI): US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, would witness the signing of a United States-Taliban agreement in Doha regarding the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, announced US President Donald Trump on Friday.

The deal is slated to be signed on Saturday. Trump, in a statement, also said that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will issue a joint declaration with the government of Afghanistan.

"Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will witness the signing of an agreement with representatives of the Taliban, while Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will issue a joint declaration with the government of Afghanistan. If the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan live up to these commitments, we will have a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and bring our troops home," Trump said.

"These commitments represent an important step to lasting peace in a new Afghanistan, free from Al Qaeda, ISIS, and any other terrorist group that would seek to bring us harm. Ultimately it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future. We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country," he added.

The US and Taliban negotiators had agreed earlier this week to finalise the pact on February 29 if a seven-day cooling-off period passed off peacefully. The truce came into effect on Friday night.

Trump had said he would put his name on the peace deal with the Taliban if a week went by without major violence in Afghanistan.

Ahead of the deal signing, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsha Vardhan Shringla on Friday met acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Haroon Chakhansuri, here and conveyed India's support for Afghans in their pursuit for sustainable peace, security and development.

Earlier in the day, a six-member delegation from the Afghan government left for the Qatari capital of Doha to hold talks with the Taliban.

The team, personally chosen by President Ashraf Ghani, is being dubbed as "a group to establish initial contacts" with the Taliban, according to Tolo News.

This meeting will be the first between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

According to the group, a part of the agreement calls for the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners. America has wanted a meeting between the Taliban and representatives of the Afghan government over the issue. But Kabul has been apprehensive over the discussion as they are unsure whether the Taliban would be willing to discuss other issues as well with the government team.

The Taliban and Afghan leaders, including from the government, are expected to meet within 10 to 15 days of Saturday's signing. Both sides will negotiate the framework of Afghanistan post-war and issues that include a permanent ceasefire, the rights of women and minorities, and governance, reported Al Jazeera. (ANI)

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