Tag Archives: Afghanistan

U.S. sees contours of peace accord with Taliban to end war in Afghanistan

U.S. sees contours of peace accord with Taliban to end war in Afghanistan“We have a draft of the framework that has to be fleshed out before it becomes an agreement,” U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told the New York Times in an interview in Kabul after six days of talks with the Taliban. “The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for international terrorist groups or individuals.” However, there was no sign that the Taliban had agreed to U.S. demands such as that they commit to a ceasefire before the withdrawal of U.S. troops or that they engage in direct talks with the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, analysts said. Another U.S. official in Kabul, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, described “significant progress” in the talks in Qatar but said more negotiations were needed on the issue of the timing of the ceasefire, which looms as a sticking point in the next round of talks on Feb. 25.



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Peace in Afghanistan? Don't Count On It.

Peace in Afghanistan? Don't Count On It.A welcome and long overdue complete departure of U.S. forces will require facing up to some uncomfortable truths.



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Foreign troops to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal: Taliban sources

Foreign troops to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal: Taliban sourcesThe details of the draft were given to Reuters by Taliban sources at the end of six days of talks with U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar aimed at ending the war, more than 17 years since American-led forces invaded Afghanistan. While no joint statement was issued, Khalilzad tweeted later that the talks had made “significant progress” and would resume shortly, adding that he planned to travel to Afghanistan to meet government officials. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday wrote on Twitter that he had received “encouraging news” from Khalilzad about the talks.



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Foreign troops 'to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal,' Taliban officials say

Foreign troops 'to quit Afghanistan in 18 months under draft deal,' Taliban officials sayTaliban officials said U.S. negotiators on Saturday agreed a draft peace deal stipulating the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan within 18 months of the agreement being signed. The details were given to Reuters by Taliban sources at the end of six days of talks with U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar aimed at ending the United States' longest war. While neither side released an official statement, Khalilzad tweeted later that the talks had made "significant progress" and would resume shortly, adding that he planned to travel to Afghanistan to meet government officials. "Meetings here (in Qatar) were more productive than they have been in the past. We have made significant progress on vital issues," he wrote, adding that numerous issues still needed work. "Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed and everything must include an intra-Afghan dialogue and comprehensive ceasefire," he said in the tweets. A U.S. State Department spokesperson declined further comment. It was not clear if the draft described by the Taliban sources is acceptable to both sides or when it will be completed and signed. According to the sources, the hardline Islamic group gave assurances that Afghanistan will not be allowed to be used by al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants to attack the United States and its allies - a key early demand of Washington. They said the deal included a ceasefire provision but they had yet to confirm a timeline and would only open talks with Afghan representatives once a truce was implemented. Up until now, the Taliban has repeatedly rejected the Afghan government's offer of holding talks, preferring instead to talk directly to the U.S. side, which it regards as its main enemy. "In 18 months, if the foreign forces are withdrawn and ceasefire is implemented then other aspects of the peace process can be put into action," a Taliban source said, quoting from a portion of the draft. More talks on the draft are expected in February, again in the Qatari capital Doha, the Taliban sources said. They expect their side to be led by new political chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the movement's co-founder and a former military commander who was released from prison in Pakistan last year. While they said his appointment had boosted momentum for a deal, it was unclear if he joined the talks. Taliban officials believe the U.S. was keen to get Baradar - who was captured in a joint Pakistani-U.S. intelligence raid in 2010 - to the table so they could be sure of speaking to the movement's most powerful figures. Other clauses in the draft include an agreement over the exchange and release of prisoners, the removal of an international travel ban on several Taliban leaders by Washington and the prospect of an interim Afghan government after the ceasefire is struck, the Taliban sources said. The suggestion to appoint an interim government in Afghanistan comes at a time when top politicians including Ghani have filed their nominations for the presidential polls in July this year. Ghani has repeatedly rejected the offer to agree to the formation of an interim government. News of progress on a deal comes as the Taliban continues to stage near-daily attacks against the Western-backed Afghan government and its security forces. Despite the presence of U.S.-led foreign forces training, advising and assisting their Afghan counterparts 17 years after the U.S.-led an invasion to drive them from power, the Taliban controls nearly half of Afghanistan. Ghani said last week that 45,000 members of the country's security forces had been killed since he took office in 2014. The United States has some 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led mission, known as Resolute Support, as well as a U.S. counter-terrorism mission directed at groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda. Despite reports in December last year that the United States was considering pulling out almost half of its forces, a White House spokesman said that U.S. President Donald Trump had not issued orders to withdraw the troops. However, the administration has not denied the reports, which have prompted fears of a fresh refugee crisis. The Taliban sources also confirmed provisions in the draft that have broader implications for Afghanistan's ties with its neighbours, particularly Pakistan, India and China. They said the deal included provisions that Baloch separatist militants will not be allowed to use Afghan soil to target Pakistan. Balochistan, a resource-rich yet often-neglected province in south west Pakistan, has been the source of separatist insurgencies for more than 60 years.



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Pelosi Accuses Trump of Endangering Security by Leaking Afghanistan Travel Plans

Pelosi Accuses Trump of Endangering Security by Leaking Afghanistan Travel Plans"the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to further endanger our troops"



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Pelosi scrapped commercial flight to Afghanistan after Trump 'outing' of trip

Pelosi scrapped commercial flight to Afghanistan after Trump 'outing' of tripHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi prepared to fly commercially to Afghanistan after President Donald Trump blocked her from using military aircraft, but she delayed the trip on Friday after the administration leaked the plans, her office said. A Pelosi aide said the top opposition Democrat decided to delay the congressional trip due to “grave” security threats that arose from the Trump administration’s disclosure. “After President Trump revoked the use of military aircraft to travel to Afghanistan, the delegation was prepared to fly commercially to proceed with this vital trip to meet with our commanders and troops on the front lines,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement.



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Former Afghanistan commander warns of plans to cut troops

Former Afghanistan commander warns of plans to cut troopsWASHINGTON (AP) — The former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said Sunday that withdrawing up to half the 14,000 American troops serving there would reduce the incentive for the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal after more than 17 years of war.



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Did the U.S. Military Just Admit Victory in Afghanistan Is Impossible?

Did the U.S. Military Just Admit Victory in Afghanistan Is Impossible?"These are two sides that are fighting against one another, and neither one of them will achieve a military victory at this stage."



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Senator Graham calls for hearings on troops in Syria, Afghanistan

Senator Graham calls for hearings on troops in Syria, AfghanistanRepublican Senator Lindsey Graham on Friday called for immediate U.S. Senate hearings on President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria, which prompted the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters he wanted to hear directly from Mattis at any hearing. Mattis announced plans on Thursday to depart in a candid resignation letter to Trump that laid bare the growing divide between them.



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Large US troop pullout planned in Afghanistan, officials say

Large US troop pullout planned in Afghanistan, officials sayWASHINGTON (AP) — The Pentagon is developing plans to withdraw up to half of the 14,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Thursday, marking a sharp change in the Trump administration's policy aimed at forcing the Taliban to the peace table after more than 17 years of war.



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