Intra-Afghan peace negotiations not possible until a foreign-forces withdrawal agreement is in place: Taliban


This story was originally published in The Khaama Press News Agency.

Taliban announced on Friday that the intra-Afghan peace dialogue is possible only after a full foreign forces withdrawal agreement is in place.

“Intra-Afghan negotiations will begin only after an agreement with America on the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan is signed,” Taliban spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen tweeted on Friday,.  

This comes as, US peace envoy, Zalmai Khalilzad paused the US, Taliban peace talks a week ago, following a Taliban’s attack on the Bagram US military base in order to give some more time to Taliban leadership for consultation on violence reduction.

“When I met the Talibs today, I expressed outrage about yesterday’s (12 Dec) attack on Bagram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians. Taliban must show they are willing & able to respond to Afghan desire for peace. We’re taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic, said Khalilzad.” Zalmay Khalizad tweeted on Dec 13.

Khalilzad visited Pakistan officials, following which he arrived in Kabul to meet the NUG leaders, US officials and key Afghan political figures.

Calling the trip as ‘productive’, Khalilzad said in a Twitter post that he met with the U.S. Ambassador John Bass, Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. Scott Miller, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, former President Hamid Karzai and other political leaders.

“We discussed efforts to achieve violence reduction and pave the way to intra-Afghan negotiations… We’re approaching an important stage in the Afghan peace process,” Khalilzad tweeted on Thursday at the end of his two-day consultation. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. officials announced last week that President Donald Trump is intending to announce the withdrawal of more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan in coming weeks, however, the US Defense Secretary did not provide a clear indication on the withdrawal preparations.

“We have a mission in Afghanistan, that is to ensure that it never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists,” U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at a Pentagon news conference. “Until we are confident that that mission is complete, we will maintain a presence to do that,” he added.

This comes as the political situation in Afghanistan is uncertain. The country’s electoral commissions were unable to announce the election results in over 11.

The presidential election may go to a second round or an interim-government will take shape to facilitate the ‘political settlement’ agreement will Taliban.