International community hails US-Taliban deal, urges peace in Afghanistan

Doha: The international community has welcomed the signing of the historic US-Taliban peace agreement as an important step in achieving a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan.

Representatives of the US and the Taliban on Saturday signed the long-awaited deal in the Qatari capital city of Doha, calling for a gradual withdrawal of American troops if the militants negotiates with the Afghan government and cuts ties with terrorist groups, reports Xinhua news agency.

According to the deal, the US is going to reduce its troops to 8,600 in Afghanistan within 135 days, and will, together with its NATO allies, completely pull out the remaining one in the following 14 months if the Taliban stuck to its commitments.

The pact also sets the stage for intra-Afghan talks which were expected by March 10.

Speaking at the White House on Saturday, US President Donald Trump said that the first withdrawals were starting “immediately” and he expected to “personally” meet Taliban leaders in the near future.

Meanwhile, the Taliban said in a statement that it had reached an agreement “about the termination of occupation of Afghanistan”.

“The accord about the complete withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and never intervening in its affairs in the future is undoubtedly a great achievement,” it added.

Addressing the signing ceremony, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani expressed hope that “this historic agreement will contribute to achieving peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday welcomed the “efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan” following the deal.

“The Secretary-General welcomes efforts to achieve a lasting political settlement in Afghanistan. Today’s events in Doha and Kabul mark important developments in this regard,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

“The Secretary-General stresses the importance of sustaining the nationwide reduction in violence, for the benefit of all Afghans. He encourages continued efforts by all parties to create an enabling environment for the intra-Afghan negotiations and a comprehensive peace process,” the statement said.

Calling the signing of the deal the beginning of a “reconciliation process,” Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that his country was committed to playing its role in ensuring the agreement holds and succeeds in bringing peace to Afghanistan.

“We welcome the Doha Accord signed between US & the Taliban. This is the start of a peace & reconciliation process to end decades of war & suffering of the Afghan people,” he tweeted.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday also welcomed the signing of the deal.

The deal would contribute to bringing stability back to Afghanistan and promote regional and international security, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

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