After the possible withdrawal, about 8,000-9,000 US soldiers would remain in Afghanistan, while the pullout would be phased and occur over a few months, the NBC News broadcaster stated.
Earlier, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Mark Milley and Defence Secretary Mark Esper said that the US military was considering scaling down its presence in Afghanistan with increased emphasis on counterterrorism operations.
Last Sunday, the Taliban announced that the talks with the US had resumed in Doha after a three-month hiatus. A source close to the Islamist movement said that both sides had discussed in Doha the reduction of violence and conditions that could spur intra-Afghan talks to begin.
However, on Thursday, US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad announced a "brief pause" in Taliban peace talks following an attack on Bagram airbase that killed two and wounded dozens of civilians. He said the Taliban must show willingness to respond to Afghan desire for peace.
(2/2) We’re taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic.— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) December 12, 2019
The United States and the Taliban had for nearly a year been attempting to negotiate a peace deal that would ensure the withdrawal of foreign troops in exchange for the movement's guarantee that the country will not become a safe haven for terrorists.
The talks, however, excluded the Afghan government over the Taliban's unwillingness to talk to Kabul. The negotiations ended with no results as US President Donald Trump announced in September that the talks were "dead" after the Taliban had claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Kabul that killed a US serviceman.
....an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2019