US seeking peace agreement in Afghanistan: Khalilzad

Leroy Wright
February 11, 2019

By hosting a meeting between the Taliban and other Afghan delegates, Moscow has greatly contributed to a peace process in Afghanistan, ex-President Hamid Karzai said, denouncing years of "failed" U.S. military presence and policies. "What we've achieved so far is significant, but they are two or three small steps in a long journey".

Analyst Ahmad Shuja referred to the remarks of US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, who emphasized the importance of intra-Afghan-dialogue and for the creation of "conditions for the government, other leaders and Taliban to sit together and negotiate a peaceful settlement".

Afghanistan's envoy to Washington, Roya Rahmani, said that any Pakistani shift in behavior was still not apparent from Kabul, which has yet to participate in the talks.

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.

Pakistan has also said that last month's talks between the United States and the Taliban were a "major diplomatic victory" for all sides.

Islamabad, running short of foreign exchange reserves and in talks with the International Monetary Fund over what would be its 13th bailout since the 1980s, says it can not afford to see Afghanistan slide into chaos just as Pakistan is trying to attract foreign investors to shore up its own economy. "A peace agreement can allow withdrawal", he said.

He also served as the US Ambassadors to Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush Administration. "We have already realized that it is just impossible", he told Sputnik.

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A former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan who is now special envoy in the talks, Khalilzad has, in recent months, held meetings with Taliban officials in Qatar, where the group's senior leaders have an office in the capital Doha.

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".

Last year, the United States dropped more than 7,000 bombs, missiles and other munitions on extremists in Afghanistan - up from 2,365 in 2014, the Times said, citing military data.

Additionally, the Taliban have promised not to provide shelter again to foreign extremists, but experts say they can not be trusted and even now are helping to hide foreign militants.

He said that they had eventually even opened a political office in Doha, Qatar in 2013 for this goal, but Washington had been unwilling to negotiate at the time.

Afghanistan has suffered almost constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the U.S. invasion in late 2001.

While the USA 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.

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