The Taliban said Wednesday they were close to an agreement with U.S. officials on an Afghanistan peace deal that could bring 14,000 U.S. troops home.
“We hope to have good news soon for our Muslim, independence-seeking nation.” Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, told Reuters.
The United States and the Taliban have been negotiating for months over a deal. The ninth round of talks began last week in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Even a tentative agreement would be momentous for the U.S. and would mark the ending of the country’s longest war, which has stretched on for nearly two decades. In all, the war has taken the lives of tens of thousands of Afghans as well as 3,500 American and coalition forces. More than 20,000 American soldiers have been injured. In 2019, 3,812 civilians were killed or wounded, including 1,207 children, according to the United Nations.
Special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has been negotiating with the Taliban. A State Department spokesperson told Fox News that while there is progress being made, the final details still need to be ironed out.
“Special Representative Khalilzad and his team have made progress on advancing a peace process, and negotiations are proceeding. We do not have an estimate for how long it may take to close out the remaining issues,” a spokesperson said.
However, a senior security official in Kabul told Reuters that the Taliban and U.S. officials had agreed on a timeline of about 14 to 24 months for the withdrawal of U.S. forces. The official said details would be shared with the Afghan government before being made public.
President Trump has signaled his desire multiple times in the past to end the war, which he has described as “endless” and a waste of money and resources. He also called the war “ridiculous” and said that U.S. troops have been acting as a “police force.” Yet he referred to Afghanistan as “a dangerous place” that seems “to be the Harvard University of terrorism.”
It is still unknown whether the withdrawal of troops will actually bring peace to the region or is merely an agreement on withdrawal and not peace.
The uncertainty is causing unease inside the Afghan government, which for the most part has been on the sidelines during negotiations.
The Taliban now control more territory than it has since 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 terror attacks.
Separately, Russia said Wednesday it is ready to be a guarantor of a peace deal struck by the United States and the Taliban.
“The Russian side is ready to be the third party at the signing or a guarantor of how the deal between the United States and the Taliban movement is implemented,” ministry spokeswoman Mariarova told TASS news agency.
Fox News' Rich Edson contributed to this report.