Home / Afghanistan / Khalilzad Clashes with Afghan Govt Over Proposed US-Taliban Deal
Khalilzad Clashes with Afghan Govt Over Proposed US-Taliban Deal

Khalilzad Clashes with Afghan Govt Over Proposed US-Taliban Deal

WASHINGTON — The Afghan government has clashed with US President Donald Trump’s envoy over a proposed troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban, just as Washington is preparing to unveil the agreement, foreign diplomats, Afghan officials and former US officials said.
Afghan officials and US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had tense exchanges in Kabul over the past few days after the American diplomat briefed President Ashraf Ghani and his advisers on the proposed deal with the Taliban, a foreign diplomat and two former US officials said.
Ghani’s government responded to the briefing “badly” and the discussions were marked by “raging arguments,” said one foreign diplomat familiar with the talks.
The US State Department declined to comment on the discussions in Kabul or on details of the proposed US-Taliban deal.
The proposed agreement “in principle” with the Taliban would see the phased withdrawal of US troops in return for the Taliban agreeing to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government and pledging not to allow areas under their control to be used as a launching pad for al Qaeda, Islamic State or other terrorist groups. Khalilzad said this week that if the agreement is approved by President Trump, the United States would initially pull out about 5,000 troops in 135 days.
The Afghan government, which has long been wary of the US-Taliban talks and was never invited to take part, worries that American troops could be withdrawn before a peace agreement is firmly in place and that Washington may have made too many concessions to their adversaries, foreign diplomats and Afghan officials said.
“The concerns are very high, not just for the government but also for the people of Afghanistan, because the people of Afghanistan have been bitten by this snake before,” Waheed Omer, a senior adviser to the Afghan president, told a press briefing in Kabul on Thursday.
“We are still not assured of what the agreement’s consequences could have for Afghanistan’s future,” Omer said. “Our position is that we need more debate on this agreement.”
State Department officials said that on Thursday Khalilzad flew to the Qatari capital of Doha, where he has previously held talks with the Taliban. The Taliban maintain a political office in Qatar.
It was unclear if Khalilzad would attempt to secure substantial changes to the deal, which follows nearly a year of unprecedented negotiations between the Taliban and the United States.
To reassure the Afghan government, the US is considering a separate joint statement or declaration that would make clear existing bilateral agreements between the two countries would remain in effect, according to a foreign diplomat and a US source familiar with the matter. In addition, the Afghan government would acknowledge — but not endorse — the US-Taliban deal, the sources said.
(Sahar News)

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