US envoy to visit Kabul and Doha as Taliban call for troop withdrawal | Taliban news

Zalmay Khalilzad’s mission comes a year after the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement to end Washington’s longest war.

The United States has said its envoy to the Afghan peace process will visit the capitals of Afghanistan and Qatar to resume talks with Afghan leaders, government officials and representatives of the Taliban.

In one declaration On Sunday, the US State Department said Zalmay Khalilzad would meet with Afghan leaders and Taliban delegates in Kabul and Doha and hold “discussions on the way forward.”

He will also visit other regional capitals “whose interests are best served by the achievement of a just and lasting political settlement”, as well as a “permanent and complete ceasefire”, in Afghanistan, he indicated.

The State Department did not provide dates or other details.

His statement comes a year after former President Donald Trump’s administration and the Taliban signed a landmark deal in the Qatari capital, Doha, in which Washington agreed to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan in exchange for pledges to the armed group to stop hosting. al-Qaeda fighters and the launch of peace negotiations with the Afghan government.

These talks began in September last year, but progress has since slowed down and violence resurrected with uncertainty as to whether international forces will withdraw their forces by May as originally planned.

Some 2,500 US troops remain in Afghanistan, along with 10,000 NATO personnel.

The Taliban also issued a declaration marking the anniversary of the Doha agreement, saying it has fulfilled its commitments under the agreement, ending attacks on provincial capitals and targeting key military and intelligence centers.

He also reiterated his demands for the withdrawal of all US troops from Afghanistan, the removal of Taliban leaders from a United Nations blacklist, as well as the release of more of his prisoners.

The new administration of US President Joe Biden is reviewing the February 2020 deal, but his Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin mentionned US troop withdrawal last week hinges on progress in intra-Afghan peace talks and reduced Taliban attacks.

The United States “will not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan” that endangers NATO forces, Austin told reporters at his first press conference as Pentagon chief, adding that “No decision regarding our future position of strength has been taken.”

The conflict in Afghanistan is Washington’s longest war.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001, accusing the Taliban government of providing safe haven to the armed group of al-Qaeda, which it accused of carrying out the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington. , DC from its base in this South Asian country.

In a report to the US Congress in early February, a bipartisan panel of experts said the Taliban had yet to demonstrate “that they are able or even willing” to honor their pledge to part ways with it. Al-Qaeda and that they continue to “accept help”. of the group.

A complete withdrawal of US troops without a lasting peace agreement would allow armed groups to gradually rebuild their capabilities “so that they can attack the American homeland” within 18 months to three years, the Afghan Study Group said.

The United States “should not … just hand a victory over to the Taliban,” he said, adding: “A return to conflict in the disaster of the political process would leave the United States in a difficult position: to want to withdraw; harnessed to a disunited government; and face, with much less resources on the ground than before, an emboldened insurgency, ”he added.

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