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Taliban pushing to 'rewrite' draft agreement for US withdrawal from Afghanistan: report

Taliban pushing to 'rewrite' draft agreement for US withdrawal from Afghanistan: report
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The Taliban is pushing to “rewrite” a draft agreement under which the U.S. would withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for pledges that Taliban leaders would help to combat terrorism, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

“We are working to rewrite the draft agreement and incorporate it in clauses that have been agreed upon,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told the AP during peace talks in Qatar with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Shaheen said the talks are “not finished yet.”

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The agreement would pave the way for withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops from Afghanistan and fulfill one of President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to nominate Linda Thomas-Greenfield for UN ambassador: reports Scranton dedicates 'Joe Biden Way' to honor president-elect Kasich: Republicans 'either in complete lockstep' or 'afraid' of Trump MORE’s longtime goals.

In 2013 he tweeted, “Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA.”

The Trump administration in December planned to begin withdrawing forces from the country over the next few months, but the proposal was met with resistance from Republicans on Capitol Hill.

The Senate voted in January for a “sense of the Senate” resolution warning against the “precipitous withdrawal” of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria.

Trump temporarily backed off his plan to withdraw U.S. forces after hearing feedback from senior military leaders.

“The consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable,” he said in an Aug. 21, 2017, address to the nation in which he promised to make decisions based on conditions on the ground. “I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense.”

Yet he also acknowledged: “My original instinct was to pull out — and, historically, I like following my instincts.”

The talks in Qatar are expected to continue next week and the administration hopes to have a deal in place by Sept. 1, shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani faces re-election on Sept. 28.

Ghani traveled Thursday to neighboring Pakistan, which is seen as supporting the Taliban insurgency against the U.S.-backed Afghan government, in order to hasten a peace deal with insurgents.

He met with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to open what he called “a new chapter of friendship” and stressed the importance of normalizing relations with Pakistan.