Khalilzad to visit Pakistan before finalising Taliban peace accord

11 Февраля, 2019, 11:23 | Author: Myra Gill
  • U.S. Army General Joseph Votel commander U.S. Central Command

"We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement [with the Taliban], but we do know that, after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace", Trump said. It also rejected the key condition for peace set by the Taliban: the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled his intention to wind down America's longest conflict, declaring Tuesday in his State of the Union address that "great nations do not fight endless wars".

"I would be wary of taking that and extrapolating off that and saying they're now on board with the peace process", said Jason Campbell, who was the Pentagon's Afghanistan country director until a year ago and is now at the RAND Corporation think tank.

He said the Taliban's top priority is the withdrawal of USA troops, whereas the top United States objective is ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a haven for extremists like Al-Qaeda.

The talks come as President Donald Trump pushes to end the Afghanistan conflict, where about 14,000 U.S. troops are still deployed and which has seen countless thousands of civilian and military deaths.

Critics are skeptical for a number of reasons, primarily because talks have not yet included the Afghan government, which the Taliban considers US-backed puppets. The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, accusing the Taliban of harboring Osama Bin Laden, the accused mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in NY and Washington.

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"We would prefer to see a peace agreement before July to bring the Taliban also into the process so that the peace agreement would a facility that peaceful election or a framework for proceeding with regards to the future of Afghanistan, he added".

He added that he welcomed Moscow's role in talks. But it is not just a withdrawal agreement that we are seeking.

"The timing of the peace settlement from our point of view is the sooner, the better", Zalmay Khalilzad told an audience at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington late Friday. He said he wants those intra-Afghan negotiations to start immediately.

The difference he witnessed in Doha was the realisation that this approach would not work, he said, adding that all sides, including the Taliban, were now willing to accommodate each other.

On a question regarding the possible formation of an interim government in Afghanistan, he said that the Taliban had neither held any discussions regarding an interim government nor had they proposed such an idea.

While the US talks with the Taliban have focused on troop presence and assurances that terrorist networks would not be given haven, Khalilzad said intra-Afghan talks could also deal with human rights, freedom of the press and the role of women, who were harshly oppressed under Taliban rule. "They may be part of a power-sharing arrangement in Afghanistan". "What we've achieved so far is significant, but they are two or three small steps in a long journey". They also contend that a long cease-fire would make it hard to get their troops back into the field if the halt to violence came to an end.

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