Pompeo: "I want to start by thanking His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for Qatar’s invaluable role as a host for these historic talks. His unstinting support helped both sides reach this momentous day. Qatar is an important ally for the US. Qatar has played a significant role in the peace negotiation efforts and we expect that they will continue to help us in these efforts."
The United States of America (US) and the Taliban on Saturday signed a peace agreement in Doha under the auspices of Qatar which is expected to end nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan.
The major components of the peace deal are: Taliban guarantees that Afghan soil will not be used by its members or other groups against the security of the US and its allies; all US and Nato troops from Afghanistan will withdraw within a timeline of 14 months; intra-Afghan negotiations to start by March 10, 2020 as well as a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire to be on the agenda of the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations.
The agreement was signed by the US special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad and Head of the Political Office of Afghan Taliban Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, during a ceremony at Sheraton Doha. The talks between the two sides have been going on for more than one and half years.
Among the dignitaries present on the occasion were HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Defence Affairs Dr Khalid bin Mohamed al-Attiyah, HE the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Baradar and a number of Taliban leaders.
Oman's Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rasit Meredow, Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov, Foreign Minister of Tajikistan Sirodjidin Muhriddin, Foreign Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Norway Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide, Secretary General of Pugwash International Paolo Cotta-Ramusino and Secretary-General of Shanghai Co-operation Organisation Vladimir Norov also attended the signing ceremony.
The four parts of the agreement are interrelated and each will be implemented in accordance with its own agreed timeline and terms. Agreement on the first two parts paves way for the last two parts.
According to the joint declaration, the initial step will see the US reducing the number of its forces in
Afghanistan to 8,600 within 135 days and will proportionally bring down the number of forces of its allies and coalition forces. The US and its coalition partners and allies will also withdraw all their forces from five military bases during the period of the first 135 days of the agreement.
Calling it ‘historic talks’, the US Secretary of State, Michael R Pompeo said the agreement ‘is a true test’ and exhorted Taliban to honour the commitments made in the deal.
He also highlighted the great role played by Qatar in making the peace deal possible. “I want to start by thanking His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani for Qatar’s invaluable role as a host for these historic talks. His unstinting support helped both sides reach this momentous day,” said Pompeo.
“Qatar is an important ally for the US. Qatar has played a significant role in the peace negotiation efforts and we expect that they will continue to help us in these efforts,” he observed at a press conference later.
Meanwhile, HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani highlighted that Qatar has exerted sincere efforts to pursue peace in Afghanistan.
“Qatar has followed the process with great optimism and progressed in the mediator role. This agreement will be a real turning point for the welfare of the people of Afghanistan and the country. Qatar always believes in dialogue to solve any conflicts,” noted Sheikh Mohamed.
Pompeo also called on Taliban to keep the promises made in the agreement. “The negotiation process in Doha, with all its twists and turns, has shown, it is possible for us to take this step together. We will closely watch Taliban’s compliance with their commitments and calibrate the pace of our withdrawal to their actions. This is how we will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves as a base for international terrorists,” he pointed out.
Addressing the gathering at the signing ceremony, Abdul Ghani said that it was a great occasion for everyone. “The agreement between Taliban and the US is good for both Afghanistan and the international community. We want good relations with all and we hope that this will be a new beginning,” he noted.
The agreement also states that the United States will seek economic co-operation for reconstruction of the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and will not intervene in its internal affairs.
US troops to start Afghan withdrawal 'immediately'
Washington: US troops will start withdrawing from Afghanistan with immediate effect, says US President Donald Trump.
"Today. They will start immediately," Trump told reporters at the White House, in response to a question about when the soldiers will start to exit the country. - DPA
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