US President Donald Trump said on 31 January that US troops would withdraw from Afghanistan after 17 years of military operations there if a peace deal is reached with the Taliban. His statement comes in wake of an announcement by US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who said that the US and the militants had reached a framework deal on ending the conflict in Afghanistan.
The deal will include the full withdrawal of foreign troops within 18 months, with the Taliban reportedly providing guarantees that the country will not be used as a base for the al-Qaeda* or Daesh* terrorist groups. The deal has still not been signed and its other details remain unclear.
At the same time, the militants have not reached a deal with Kabul, as the latter is urging the Taliban to participate in peace talks, promising to reduce the foreign military presence "to zero".
The Taliban, an Islamic insurgent group, seized power in Afghanistan in 1996, but were overthrown after the US invaded the country in 2001 to fight al-Qaeda in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks. Washington said that the country had become a safe haven for the terrorist network while the Taliban was in power.
Most US troops had been withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but a small contingent has continued to support the Afghan Armed Forces in combating terrorism.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) and al-Qaeda are terrorist organisations banned in Russia