President Trump on Friday issued a statement announcing that "soon, at my direction, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will witness the signing of an agreement with representatives of the Taliban," Trump urged "the Afghan people to seize this opportunity for peace and a new future for the country."
Foreign ministers and representatives of almost 30 countries and international organizations in the region arrived in Doha on Friday to attend a planned signing ceremony for the US-Taliban deal on Saturday, according to the political office of the Taliban in Qatar.
The signing is expected to happen on Saturday, following a successful weeklong period of a reduction in violence.
Both US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Kabul on Saturday, according to presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, who said the two key officials will announce a joint declaration with President Ashraf Ghani.
The declaration, he said, will be a reassurance of the US and NATO’s commitment to Afghanistan.
It is expected that following the US-Taliban peace deal, an intra-Afghan peace process will begin with talks between a delegation from the Taliban and a delegation representing the Afghan government, other political and cultural leaders and civil society members.
US officials have repeatedly stated that every aspect of the peace agreement going forward will be "conditions-based."
In an open letter to the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, 22 US Congress members have raised concerns over the potential agreement between Washington and the Taliban, saying: “The Taliban has a history of extracting concessions in exchange for false assurances.”
According to the letter, the Taliban will "accept nothing less" than a full-scale US withdrawal from Afghanistan as the group seeks to establish their totalitarian “Islamic Emirate.”
The letter raises concerns that the US military will involve the Taliban in counterterrorism operations, and that intelligence will be shared with the insurgent group.
Based on the letter, the congress members want no commitment of a full US withdrawal in the signed plan, among other demands.
The letter also states: “The Taliban is not a de facto counterterrorism partner, and pretending they are ignores their long-time jihadist mission and action. They continue to be closely allied with al-Qaeda and fight alongside them.”