Afghani President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan on Tuesday under the peace agreement signed by the U.S. and Taliban last month, reports the AP.
The state of play: The move comes amid ongoing political tensions in Afghanistan as Kabul hosted two presidential inaugurations on Monday, with both incumbent Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah continuing to insist that they won the last election.
- In the agreement, the U.S. withdrawal is not contingent on political stability in Afghanistan or a specific outcome to talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government over the country’s future.
- U.S. troop removal depends on the Taliban preventing terrorist groups like al-Qaeda from using the country to threaten the security of the U.S. and its allies.
- Plans for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban have so far stagnated. The dueling inaugurations hampered attempts to plan the talks, though Ghani said Tuesday that he has started compiling a negotiating team.
By the numbers: A U.S. military spokesman told AP that it will reduce the number troops it has in the country from around 13,000 to 8,600 over 135 days.
What they're saying: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Ghani in a statement Monday saying, "We also welcome President Ghani’s announcement that he will issue a decree March 10 on Taliban prisoner release."
- A Taliban spokesman told the AP over the weekend that the insurgent group is committed to its agreement with the U.S. and called on Washington to ensure that its prisoners are freed.