United States heightens attacks on Taliban to gain leverage in peace talks

US Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wants peace deal before July vote

US heightens attacks on Taliban to gain leverage in peace talks: NYT

But, to date, the Taliban has negotiated only directly with the United States, largely cutting the Afghan government out of the discussion. "If they decide that they don't want to have foreign troops, we don't want to stay where we are not wanted - provided that there is no threat to our national security from Afghanistan", Khalilzad said. It also rejected the key condition for peace set by the Taliban: the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban has said that despite the ongoing talks with the U.S. and other regional powers, it had "not yet reached" any conclusion that would entail an immediate end to hostilities against America and its allies, according to a media report.

"We are at the early stages of a protracted process", Ambassador Khalilzad added.

Khalilzad said the U.S.is not seeking permanent military bases in Afghanistan and will leave if Kabul does not want USA troops there, "provided that there is no threat to our national security from Afghanistan, that there are not terrorist threats from Afghanistan to the United States - that is a red line, and I think that's the policy of the president as well".

For the US, the priority was securing a commitment from the Taliban that it would never again allow a terrorist group to use Afghanistan as a staging ground to attack the USA or its allies, and an agreement in principle was reached on that issue.

Karzai's words came days after Taliban representatives met in the Russian capital with other Afghan delegates, including the former president himself as well as other former government officials and some members of the Afghan diaspora in Russia.

A statement issued on behalf of all parties also agreed on the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. Even if the troop withdrawal and Taliban assurances on denying haven to extremist groups were fully settled, a peace agreement would not be completed until numerous other issues such as political participation are decided, he said. He added that more talks are planned to "flesh out" the Taliban's commitments.

"My overall goal is, at the direction of the president of the secretary of state, not to seek out withdrawal agreement, but the peace agreement". He said he wants those intra-Afghan negotiations to start immediately.

Khalilzad also emphasized that the next phase of peace process should be led by the Afghans as the role of the United States will decrease.

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. So, the time has come, they say for an inclusive dialogue leading to an inclusive piece, he said. "They may be part of a power-sharing arrangement in Afghanistan".

Weeks after initiating direct talks with the Taliban, wherein the two agreed on a framework of peace agreement, Trump Administration's point person Friday told a Washington audience that these were just a few steps in the direction of peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan and that they have a long way to go.

Latest News