Afghan Voice Agency (AVA) 1 Mar 2020 9:13 -------------------------------------------------- Title : U.S., coalition forces to withdraw from Afghanistan in 14 months: joint declaration -------------------------------------------------- Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on Saturday said that Afghanistan and the United States had reached an agreement based on which the U.S. and coalition forces will withdraw from the country within 14 months. Text : "Today, the United States and Afghanistan issued a joint declaration. Based on this declaration a durable peace will be ensured for all Afghans," Ghani told a joint press conference with visiting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper here. He made the comments as the United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in the Qatari capital of Doha also on Saturday. "For the first time, the idea of withdrawal of foreign forces was initiated by me," Ghani said after issuing the joint declaration. "We are confident that we have a national consensus on peace. We have the political will and the capacity to make peace because of the resilience of our society, the dynamism of our economy and the capability of our state. Afghanistan is a sovereign state. It is an independent country," he noted. According to the declaration, the 12,000-13,000 U.S. troops currently serving in Afghanistan will draw down to 8,600 within 135 days from the date of signing of the declaration. The United States and coalition "will complete the withdrawal of remaining forces from Afghanistan within 14 months following the announcement of joint declaration and the U.S.-Taliban agreement, and will withdraw all their forces from remaining bases, subject to the Taliban fulfillment of its commitments under the U.S.-Taliban agreement," according to the declaration. "As an intra-Afghan negotiations progress the United States will watch the Taliban s actions closely, to judge whether their efforts towards peace on good face. If the Taliban uphold the agreement, the United States will begin a conditions-based, I repeat conditions-based reduction in forces," Esper said at the same press conference. The U.S.-Taliban agreement reportedly also included the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations. Afghanistan will start diplomatic engagement with members of the UN Security Council to remove members of the Taliban from the sanctions list, according to the declaration.