What does the US deal with the Taliban mean?

Saturday’s historic deal between the United States and the Talibanpaves the way to an end of a war that has lasted nearly two decades in Afghanistan.

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban. militant Islamist group, signed the historic agreement Saturday in Doha, Qatar, where the two sides spent months hashing out the agreement.

What does the historic agreement mean? Here are some of the points both sides agreed to:

Troop withdrawals

According to the agreement signed Saturday, the U.S. agreed to a gradual withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan over the next 14 months, The New York Times reported. The U.S. currently has about 13,000 troops in the country. The U.S. will begin reducing its troop levels to 8,600 in the first 135 days and will pull its forces from five bases, according to NPR.

At its peak a decade ago, the U.S. had more than 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, the Times reported. U.S. allies and coalition members will also reduce their forces, The Washington Post reported.

Hostilities will end

During negotiations, the Americans insisted on a cease-fire that would curtail the loss of life and give the U.S. and the Taliban room to conduct talks. The Taliban had previously refused that demand and said it would discuss the issue only with other Afghans at the negotiating table, the Times reported.

Although peace talks between the two sides gained momentum in 2019, the violence in Afghanistan increased, according to the Post. The United Nations' annual report on civilian casualties, released this month, said that last year, 3,403 civilians were killed and 6,989 were injured.

The signing of the agreement was achieved after a seven-day test of reducing violence, and officials said casualties were reduced during that period, the Times reported.

What’s next? More complicated negotiations

Now comes the most difficult part: talks between the Taliban and other Afghans -- including the government.

The talks will be tied to future power-sharing in the country, the Times reported. Negotiations are expected to begin within 10 days, the newspaper reported.

Previously, the Taliban has refused to recognize Afghanistan's democratic government as legitimate. Other sticking points include women's rights and civil liberties, the Times reported.

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the U.S. “will closely watch the Taliban’s compliance with their commitments, and calibrate the pace of our withdrawal to their actions.”

“This is how (we) will ensure that Afghanistan never again serves (as a haven) for international terrorists,” Pompeo said.

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