Long a spoiler, Pakistan quietly starts aiding US-Taliban talks
11 February, 2019, 11:26 | Author: Sheila Harris
Instead of withdrawing upon reaching a peace deal, the condition the Taliban are seeking, Khalilzad indicated that the USA would only leave if "there is no threat to our national security from Afghanistan".
In an honest account of his view about the prospects for peace, delivered to an audience at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, he cautioned he did not trust America's long-time adversary.
Senior Taliban negotiator Abdul Salam Hanafi said that USA diplomats had agreed to remove half of the 14,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of April and that the withdrawal process had already begun. "We have a long way to go".
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But he also admitted that the "elections make the peace agreement more complicated".
U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan August 7, 2018.
He also repeated his earlier warning that it would take more than one meeting to end a 40-year-old war in Afghanistan.
She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the withdrawal agreement in line with her commitments to the parliament.
Elections in Afghanistan had originally been slated for April 20 but were postponed for three months as peace talks progressed.
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"It will be better for Afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the election, which is scheduled in July", Khalilzad said, adding that there remained "a lot of work" to do.
The Taliban had issued a statement to announce Baradar's appointment and a reshuffle in their team to put senior leaders into key positions as the talks with United States officials gain momentum.
Additionally, the Taliban have promised not to shelter foreign extremists, but experts say they can not be trusted and even now are helping to hide such militants.
"Our vision long term is for an Afghanistan that's entirely sovereign, independent".
"The release of Mullah Baradar, which was my request... they (Pakistan) accommodated that, because Mullah Baradar has reputation of being more open, more pro-peace", said the top American envoy who is leading the Trump Administration's efforts to have peace talks with the Taliban.
Late last month, 38 civilians and several Afghan soldiers were freed by the army from a Taliban detention center in southern Helmand province.
Getting American troops out of Afghanistan, where they have been either fighting the Taliban or advising Afghan government forces since October 2001, is the top priority for the Taliban officials he has talked with, Khalilzad said.
All parties agreed to support the Doha peace talks with U.S. negotiators that Mr Trump on Tuesday described as "constructive".
Afghanistan has suffered almost constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the United States invasion in late 2001.
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