Army would follow US withdrawal from Afghanistan

All Australian troops could be out of Afghanistan within 14 months after the US and the Taliban signed a historic peace agreement.

Australia, along with other coalition forces, will follow the US in any troop withdrawal from the country, but there are still further negotiations to come that could derail the deal.

An Australian Special Operations Task Group soldier in Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump said it was "time to bring our people back home" after the US signed the deal with the Taliban, which sets into motion the potential for a full withdrawal of coalition troops.

The US and NATO allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months if the Taliban upholds its side of the deal, which includes a "a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire".

A full withdrawal would mark the end of a near two-decade war in which 41 Australian troops have been killed.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australia welcomed any peace agreement after "a lot of effort" had been put in over the years since coalition forces entered the country in 2001.

Brighter future

“Australians have fought alongside our allies for many years in an effort to provide a brighter future for Afghanistan," Mr Dutton told the ABC's Insiders program.

“It's been an incredibly important effort and if there are troop withdrawals and we'll work that out with the United States, but obviously the Taliban need to abide with any conditions on such agreement.

“If there's a withdrawal of coalition troops, we'll do that in line with consultations with the United States, the UK and our Five Eyes partners."

Asked whether he was comfortable with the Taliban being back in power, Mr Dutton said: “Well, I'm comfortable if people aren't being slaughtered and attacked and that young girls can go to school.

“And this will be part of the discussion and as you say we want to make sure that the Taliban and others abide by the conditions and the intent of the agreement. But we'll wait for the detail.”

Security benefits

Mr Dutton said the long-running war had taken its toll but there had been benefits for Australia's national security in staying in the country for the past two decades.

“We always mark the loss of any Australian soldier in any conflict – their families still live with that pain today – but for us, there are important equities in the Middle East," Mr Dutton said.

"We have done an enormous amount in terms of intelligence-collection in Afghanistan, in Iraq, elsewhere, across Syria for example, and the collection of that intelligence has stopped terrorist attacks taking place in the West including in Australia, in Indonesia and elsewhere. So there are many facets to our involvement in the conflict."

The agreement, which followed more than a year of negotiations, lays out a timetable for the final withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

The deal hinges on tricky further negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government over the future of the country, including the possibility of a power-sharing arrangement and permanent ceasefire.

Mr Trump said he believed the Taliban wanted to "do something to show that we're not all wasting time".

"If bad things happen, we'll go back," he said.

"I'll be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the not too distant future and will be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say.

"They will be killing terrorists. They will be killing some very bad people. They will keep that fight going."

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