The U.S. has agreed to the outlines of a peace deal with the Taliban that includes the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in exchange for a guarantee that terrorist groups will not be permitted to take route in the vacated region, the New York Times reported Monday.
“We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” America’s chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the New York Times during an interview in Kabul. “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.”
“We felt enough confidence that we said we need to get this fleshed out, and details need to be worked out,” he added.
The U.S. has also demanded that the Taliban enter into a cease-fire with the Afghan government as a precondition for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Taliban leadership is reportedly considering the demand but has not yet agreed to it.
While the deal has not yet been finalized, it represents the most significant progress since peace negotiations began some nine years ago.
Following six days of negotiation, Khalilzad briefed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani on the status of negotiations, prompting the president to strike a tone of cautious optimism in a subsequent address to the nation.
“We want peace quickly, we want it soon, but we want it with prudence,” Ghani said. “Prudence is important so we do not repeat past mistakes.”