‘Historic opportunity for peace’: White House on US-Afghanistan deal
The Trump White House took a victory lap Saturday saying the president had come good on his promise of ending endless wars with the conclusion of the Afghan agreement, which, it said, was a “historic opportunity for peace” and the United States will be “closely” watching the Taliban to ensure compliance.
President Donald Trump had not personally commented on the signing of the agreement yet, but the White House said in a note released shortly after that the president “is making good on his promise to bring our troops home from endless wars overseas by working toward peace in Afghanistan”.
Trump ran for president on the promise of ending America’s long-running wars such as the one in Afghanistan and bring troops home. He has appeared to have been in a hurry and faced criticism earlier for engaging with the Taliban directly in an unprecedented move, cutting out the Afghan government. He was also criticized for wanting to withdraw troops from Syria after prematurely declaring victory against the Islamic State.
Watch: US, Taliban sign peace deal aimed at ending war in Afghanistan
While chalking up the Afghan agreement as another promise fulfilled, the White House noted it was only a “historic opportunity of peace” and “work remains” to be done.
The United States has secured “strong commitments” from the Taliban that they will “permanently sever their ties to international terrorists”, the White House said. And “as the agreement is implemented, we will be watching closely and making determinations about compliance based on our own judgment and the safety of our personnel.”
The United States will be withdrawing troops — from the current 13,000 to about 8,600 over the next months — but will sustain its counter-terrorism forces to “continue dismantling terrorist groups that seek to attack the United States” The pace of troop reduction, it stressed, “is conditions based and will depend on how well the Taliban comply with the commitments they have made”.
“If the political settlement fails, if the talks fail, there is nothing that obliges the United States to withdraw troops.,” a senior administration official told reporters at background briefing, referring to the Taliban committing to engage in a political dialogue with the Afghan government.
Apart from the commitment to “permanently” sever ties with terrorists, the Taliban will also be watched closely by the United States for its commitments to enter “negotiations with the Afghan government, its political leaders, and Afghan civil society, including women”.