4 September 2019

To Start Afghan Withdrawal, U.S. Would Pull 5,400 Troops in 135 Days

by Mujib Mashal 

KABUL, Afghanistan — The United States will pull 5,400 troops from Afghanistan and leave five military bases in 20 weeks, the American special envoy told Afghan leaders on Monday, to initiate a gradual withdrawal from the country as part of an agreement being finalized with the Taliban.

The American envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has led nearly a year of talks with the Taliban, told an Afghan news channel in Kabul that the United States had reached an agreement “in principle” with the Afghan insurgents, but he cautioned that final approval rested with President Trump.

“In principle, on paper, yes we have reached an agreement — that it is done,” Mr. Khalilzad told the Afghan channel ToloNews. “But it is not final until the president of the United States also agrees to it.”

The initial troop withdrawal and base closures would take place within 135 days after the deal goes into effect, and Afghan leaders aware of Mr. Khalilzad’s discussions in Kabul said the most likely sticking point for Mr. Trump would be the timeline under which the rest of the American troops would leave Afghanistan…

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