On Saturday, the U.S. and the Taliban signed an historic peace agreement.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signed the deal but was cautious in his statements, saying that the “good feelings” will not last if there isn’t concrete follow-up on the “commitments stated and promises made.”

Fox News reports:

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.

U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. is also working for a “complete ceasefire” which will be discussed in Oslo on March 10.

The deal is intended to extricate the U.S. from Afghanistan and to ensure that our removal from the area does not create a vacuum that will be filled with terrorist groups like al-Qaida.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

In practice, the agreement is designed to quickly reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan from about 13,000 to 8,600—the level it was when Mr. Trump took office in 2017. America’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies will also scale back their military presence in Afghanistan and work with the U.S. to shutter five bases around the country.

Once the U.S. reaches that level, expected to happen over the next 135 days, a full U.S. troop withdrawal by June 2021 would be dependent on several conditions. Most important to the U.S., the Taliban have to honor their pledge to help prevent insurgent groups from trying to use the country to plan attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

The Taliban also agreed to discuss a permanent cease-fire in talks with the current Afghan government set to begin on March 10th.

In his remarks, Pompeo notes that while the U.S. is hopeful the Taliban will uphold its side of the agreement the U.S. “will not hesitate to do what we must do to protect American lives.”

Today, following the first ever weeklong break in fighting in nearly 19 years, I am proud to announce that the United States has secured separate commitments from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to hold negotiations for peace.

Very importantly, the U.S.-Taliban agreement entails a promise from the Taliban that terrorists can never again operate from Afghan soil. We make no mistake; the chapter of American history on the Taliban is written in blood that killed many Americans, NATO allies, coalition partners, and many Afghans.

I am just as angry over 9/11 as I was the day I watched al-Qaida knock down the Twin Towers on TV. Our valiant servicemembers, intelligence warriors, and world-class diplomats who have served in Kandahar and in Helmand and all over Afghanistan know firsthand what I mean. They know what I mean exactly.

And we know exactly who we’re dealing with. If the Taliban do not uphold their commitments, President Trump and his team will not hesitate to do what we must do to protect American lives.

If, on the other hand, the Taliban abide by their promises, the United States will undertake a responsible, conditions-based troop withdrawal. That withdrawal means that our men and women in uniform will incur fewer risks, our financial burden will be eased, and our brave troops will return home.

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