India to attend US-Taliban peace deal event today
Nearly two decades after the United States stationed its troops in Afghanistan to smash the Taliban; two US envoys will sign a peace deal with the Taliban today in Qatar’s capital Doha. India will attend the historic signing event as an ‘observer’.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will witness the signing of an agreement while the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will issue a joint declaration with the government of Afghanistan during the deal.
India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has already reached Kabul and met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and personally handed over a letter from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The deal will see the phased withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and require the Taliban to initiate a formal dialogue with the Afghan government and other civil society groups on a permanent nationwide ceasefire and power-sharing in the country. Following the deal, The US and Taliban representatives are supposed to negotiate the contours of Afghanistan's future within 15 days.
Earlier, President Trump said that once the deal is signed the 13,000 US troops in Afghanistan would be cut to 8,600. He added that all US forces could be out of the country in 14 months. If the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan live up to these commitments, there will be a powerful path forward to end the war in Afghanistan and the troops could be home soon.
The US deployed thousands of its personnel post-September 11 terror attacks in 2001 and since then US lost around 2,352 soldiers.