US President Donald Trump hailed a deal that the United States signed with Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and said he was planning to meet leaders of the group in the "not-too-distant future".
"I will be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not-too-distant future. And we will be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say they are going to be doing: they will be killing terrorists. They will be killing some very bad people. They will keep that fight going," Trump addressed reporters at a White House press conference.
"We have had tremendous success in Afghanistan in the killing of terrorists, but it is time, after all these years, to go and bring our people back home. We want to bring our people back home," the US President said hours after the United States signed an agreement with the Taliban in Doha, under which it has committed to withdrawing all its troops from Afghanistan in 14 months' time.
"We just signed an agreement that puts us in a position to get it done, bring us down to in the vicinity of 8,000 troops. The United Nations was informed of everything," Trump said.
Trump said Afghanistan's neighbours should help maintain stability following the agreement, which could pave the way toward a full withdrawal of foreign soldiers from Afghanistan and represent a step toward ending the country's 18-year war.
Many expect the forthcoming talks between the Afghan sides to be more complicated than the initial deal. But Trump said he thought the negotiations would be successful because "everyone is tired of war."
It's been a very long journey: Donald Trump
Currently, the US has around 13,000 troops in Afghanistan. According to the deal, the US plans to bring down the number to 8,600, said a media report. The US President said it had been a long journey in Afghanistan.
"It's been a very long journey. It's been a hard journey for everybody. We are, very largely, a law enforcement group. And that is not what our soldiers are all about. They are fighters. They are the greatest fighters in the world," he said.
"As you know, we have destroyed, in Syria and Iraq, 100 per cent of the ISIS caliphate. We have thousands of prisoners. We have killed ISIS fighters by the thousands and, likewise, in Afghanistan. But now it is time for somebody else to do that work and that will be the Taliban and it could be the surrounding countries. There are many countries that surround Afghanistan that can help. We are 8,000 miles away," Trump said.
"So we will be bringing it down to 8,000 to approximately 8,600 -- in that vicinity -- and then we will make our final decision (at) some point in the fairly near future. But this was a very spirited agreement. There was a lot of talk. They have been trying to get this for many years," he said.
The US President said he really believed that the Taliban wanted to do something to show that they were not wasting time.
"If bad things happen, we will go back. I let the people know: we will go back and we will go back so fast, and we will go back with a force like nobody has ever seen. I do not think that will be necessary. I hope it is not necessary," he said.