President Joe Biden, Vice President Joe Bidens, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel have signed an agreement that will keep the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan indefinitely and allow them to operate a joint military base there.
The agreement also commits the U, as part of a larger security deal reached last month, to ensure the United States will keep a small contingent of troops in the country for the duration of the agreement.
It is the first time the U., in its current form, has committed to the continued presence of U.s. troops in Afghanistan.
U.S.-led troops began withdrawing in October 2016.
The agreement was reached with the Taliban and Afghan officials in Kabul and comes just a week after the U.-Afghan joint working group on Afghanistan security concluded a peace process and agreed to a set of key goals.
Last month, Biden announced the first steps toward peace in Afghanistan, including the signing of a joint security agreement with the Afghan government.
Biden, who met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in New York last month and has said he would visit the country soon, said the new deal with the U-Afghan government will ensure that Afghans are able to pursue a transition to democracy, a goal that Biden has been pushing for.
“The Taliban is no longer a partner in peace in the region,” Biden said in a statement.
“Instead, they are a criminal organization.
The United States and our coalition will remain committed to working with the Afghans to establish a new and stable government, to provide the security and stability that the Afghan people demand, and to protect Afghanistan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Earlier this month, a senior Afghan official said the country has already accepted more than 100,000 Afghan asylum seekers, and that the U to the Afghans has already approved nearly 50,000 new asylum applications.
After the signing ceremony, the White House released a statement from Biden thanking the Afghan leadership for the progress that the new agreement has made.
In addition to the base, Biden signed a deal with Iran to build a nuclear facility in Natanz, where Iran has been building its nuclear program for decades.
Iran has been at odds with the United Nations over the years, including a U.N. resolution that it must stop its nuclear activity in exchange for a freeze in U.n. sanctions.