- "After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan," Pompeo tweeted.
- The text indicates that the insurgents and Washington will prepare for talks with Kabul.
- UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the international community to take more action to help Afghan refugees.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday that the Trump administration and the Taliban will sign a peace deal on February 29. “This is an important step on a long road to peace,” Pompeo tweeted, “and I call on all Afghans to seize this opportunity.” The two sides announced almost simultaneously that they would sign the agreement after more than a year of negotiations in Qatar.
“After decades of conflict, we have come to an understanding with the Taliban on a significant reduction in violence across Afghanistan,” Pompeo’s tweet said. “Both parties will now create a suitable security situation in advance of agreement signing date, extend invitations to senior representatives of numerous countries and organizations to participate in the signing ceremony, make arrangements for the release of prisoners,” the Taliban said in a Friday statement.
The text indicates that the insurgents and Washington will prepare for talks with Kabul. One of the Taliban’s main requirements is to withdraw U.S. forces, which number 12,000 troops in the country. This is also an election target for U.S. President Donald Trump, who had promised to minimize military presence in Asia. The Taliban said the agreement would “build the road” for the start of peace talks in Afghanistan, which was seen as a key step in ending Afghanistan’s two decades of war.
However, the statement made no mention of the Afghan government at all, and ensured that the peace talks would be “held with several political parties in the country.” The Afghan National Security Council (NSC) announced today that the Taliban also failed to mention their commitment to reducing violence in Afghanistan within seven days, starting at midnight Friday.
Pompeo said that internal Afghanistan negotiations would begin after the agreement was signed, and “will be facilitated in this basic step to achieve a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.”
Afghan Refugee Conference Calls for More Support for Afghan Refugees
A two-day international conference on Afghan refugees, co-sponsored by Pakistan and the United Nations Refugee Agency, closed in Islamabad on February 18. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the meeting that the Afghan refugee problem is one of the largest and most protracted refugee problems in the world, and called on the international community to take more action to help Afghan refugees.
The current situation in Afghanistan continues to be volatile and the refugee problem is still worsening. According to UNHCR, more than 400,000 people were displaced in Afghanistan in 2019 due to conflict, drought and other natural disasters. At the same time, only about 8,000 Afghan refugees were able to return to their homes.
According to UN statistics, nearly a quarter of Afghanistan’s 35 million people have left their homes. Currently, 4.6 million Afghans are in exile worldwide, of which 2.7 million have been granted refugee status. Pakistan and Iran have hosted 1.4 million and 1 million Afghan refugees, respectively.
“Afghanistan and its people cannot be abandoned,” Guterres said. “Now is the time for the international community to act and to deliver.”