The United States signed a historic peace treaty with Taliban militants on Saturday, aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke cautiously in front of Taliban leaders in Doha, Qatar, calling the agreement a “true test” of their commitment to peace.
“We will closely watch the 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 said.
“This agreement will mean nothing and today’s good feelings will not last if we don’t take concrete actions on commitments and promises that have been made,” Pompeo said, seemingly directed at his counterparts.
Among those in attendance were leaders of the Taliban, who harbored Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network as they plotted, and then celebrated, the hijackings of four airliners that were crashed into lower Manhattan, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania, killing almost 3,000 people.
As part of the agreement, the US is drawing back a number of the approximately 13,000 troops stationed there, although more than 8,000 will remain to ensure certain counter-terrorism conditions are met by the Taliban.
Another condition of the agreement calls for the release of 5,000 Taliban members from Afghan-run jails, although it was not clear if the Afghan government will comply with that.
A senior administration official told reporters earlier this week that the deal “explicitly mentions al Qaeda” and calls for the Taliban to cut all ties. The US is also working for a “complete ceasefire” which will be discussed in Oslo on March 10.
“I know there will be a temptation to declare victory but victory, victory for Afghans, will only be achieved when they can live in peace and prosper,” Pompeo warned.
“Victory for the United States will only be achieved when Americans and our allies no longer have to fear a terrorist threat from Afghanistan and we will do whatever it takes to protect our people.”