“Soon, at my direction, 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,” Trump said in a statement on Friday. “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.”
The president has long expressed his impatience with the nearly 20-year-long conflict and has promised to bring thousands of troops stationed in the country home.
Pompeo last week announced the Trump administration and the terrorist organization agreed to a “nationwide reduction in violence across Afghanistan,” and if the plan lasted, the two sides would sign a peace deal on Feb. 29.
“Ultimately, it will be up to the people of Afghanistan to work out their future,” Trump said in his statement. “We, therefore, urge the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for their country.”
The secretary of state is heading to Doha, Qatar, where the United States and the Taliban have held talks for months. Last year, the United States and the militant group nearly came to an agreement on a peace deal, but Trump pulled out after an American service member was killed during an attack that was claimed by the Taliban.
“Nearly 19 years ago, American service members went to Afghanistan to root out the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks,” Trump said. “In that time, we have made great progress in Afghanistan, but at great cost to our brave service members, to the American taxpayers, and to the people of Afghanistan.”
The Taliban don’t recognize the current government of Afghanistan, which it has long viewed as a puppet of the United States. The group will have to sit down with a delegation of Afghan government officials, ABC News reported.
“These commitments represent an important step to a 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,” Trump added.