NEW YORK  -   A plan under consideration as part of Afghanistan peace negotiations would withdraw all of the roughly 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan within three to five years, along with other international troops in the region, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The plan is reportedly being offered in peace negotiations that could result in the government in Kabul sharing power with the Taliban, the newspaper said. Portions of the plan were shared with the Times by current and former US and European officials, it said.  The plan would halve the US troop presence in Afghanistan in the next few months.

With European and Australian troops taking charge of training Afghan forces, remaining US forces would be freed up to focus more attention on terrorism strikes. The plan has been embraced in some circles in Washington and at NATO headquarters, but US officials caution that President Donald Trump could go down a different path.

Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently said that allies would be consulted before the US withdraws any troops from Afghanistan. “There will be no unilateral troops reductions,” Shanahan told reporters earlier this month in Brussels after meeting with NATO defence chiefs. “That was one of the messages: It will be coordinated. We’re together.”

Pentagon spokesman Lt Col Kone Faulkner said that nothing is finalised, and the Pentagon is “considering all options of force numbers and disposition.”

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is working to secure a peace agreement in Afghanistan and will participate in negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar on Saturday (today) following up on discussions from earlier in the week.

The plan is intended to aid him during these discussions.

A withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is a top priority for the Taliban, and a possible withdrawal was addressed in a draft framework agreed upon by the United States and the Taliban last month.  The draft framework also required the Taliban to bar Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State from entering Afghanistan and plotting terrorist attacks from the country.

Despite progress in the negotiations, the Afghanistan government is yet to be included in the discussions due to resistance from the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani advised his forces to be prepared for attacks from the Taliban while a peace plan is worked out. “Peace is not easy; it needs courage and bilateral honour,” Ghani said in a speech on Thursday.