The United States signed a peace agreement with Taliban militants on Saturday aimed at bringing an end to 18 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan and allowing US troops to return home from America's longest war. Under the agreement, the US would draw its forces down to 8,600 from 13,000 in the next three to four months, with the remaining US forces withdrawing in 14 months. The complete pullout, however, would depend on the Taliban meeting their commitments to prevent terrorism, per the AP. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended the ceremony in Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office, but he didn't sign the agreement. Instead, it was signed by US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
President George W. Bush ordered the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Trump has repeatedly promised to get the US out of its "endless wars" in the Middle East, and the withdrawal of troops could provide a boost as he seeks re-election. Trump has approached the Taliban agreement cautiously, steering clear of the crowing surrounding other major foreign policy actions, such as his talks with North Korea. Last September, on short notice, he called off what was to be a signing ceremony with the Taliban at Camp David after a series of new Taliban attacks. But he has since been supportive of the talks led by Khalilzad. Under the agreement, the Taliban promise not to let extremists use the country as a staging ground for attacking the US or its allies. US officials, however, are loath to trust the Taliban to fulfill their obligations.
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