The United States and the Taliban may have agreed on a plan for American troops to leave Afghanistan, sources privy to the development told VOA Saturday. In return, the insurgent group has given assurances that no international terrorist groups would be allowed to use Afghan soil to threaten America or any other country in future.
The understanding is the outcome of nearly a week of intense and uninterrupted dialogue between U.S. and insurgent representatives in Doha, Qatar. Representatives of the host government and Pakistan have also been in attendance.
The sources told VOA they expected the two negotiating sides to announce the withdrawal plan as early as Saturday and at the latest by Monday, if all goes as planned. The U.S. drawdown plan would require the Taliban to observe a cease-fire. However, both the withdrawal and the cease-fire will be “limited and conditional.” Sources, however, do not rule out the possibility of President Donald Trump announcing the final agreement with the Taliban at his State of the Union speech now that the U.S. government shutdown has ended.
There was no immediate comment from the U.S. or the Taliban on the reported progress in their talks. U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad is leading the American side in what observers describe as unprecedented engagement between the two adversaries in the 17-year-old war.
The sources told VOA they believe that the agreement on conditional and limited withdrawal and cease-fire will give both sides an opportunity to test the waters “without taking too huge of a political risk.”