The Trump administration is weighing a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan if the Taliban meet certain conditions, including agreeing to a ceasefire and entering into peace talks with the Afghan government, U.S. and Western officials told NBC News.
The tentative plan would involve initially pulling out nearly half of the current 14,000-strong force if the Taliban make good on key commitments, two U.S. defense officials and a Western official said. That would involve withdrawing mainly troops assigned to the training and advising mission, the officials said.
But that scenario will hinge on the outcome of crucial talks starting this weekend in Doha, the latest in a series of face-to-face meetings between U.S. presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives. The Washington Post first reported the troop withdrawal plans.
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President Donald Trump has made clear he wants to end the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said he had orders to scale back American forces by the 2020 election.