US envoy: Afghan, Taliban crew able to set talks agenda


In a sequence of tweets, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad stated there was a signed doc and urged each the Taliban and the federal government to get all the way down to the enterprise of negotiating a “political roadmap and a cease-fire.”

The three-page doc lays out the principles and procedures for the negotiations, that are going down in Qatar the place the Taliban have lengthy maintained a political workplace.

Afghans “now anticipate speedy progress on a political roadmap and a ceasefire. We perceive their want and we assist them,” Khalilzad tweeted.

A cease-fire, rights of girls and minorities, and constitutional amendments are anticipated to high the agenda. However the checklist is prone to be lengthy and contentious, with points corresponding to security ensures for hundreds of Taliban fighters who disarm, in addition to for disbanding the closely armed militias loyal to Kabul warlords, lots of them allied both with the federal government or opposition politicians.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who on Feb. 29 signed a Taliban-U.S. deal that paves the way in which for withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, welcomed the settlement.

“As negotiations on a political roadmap and everlasting ceasefire start, we may even work arduous with all sides in pursuit of a severe discount of violence,” he stated.

Khalilzad’s announcement was not sudden — final month, the Taliban stated the principles and procedures had been settled and the U.S. stated final week it was all however wrapped up. However then the Afghan authorities stated it had considerations with the among the phrases within the preamble that set off accusations that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was holding up the deal. His spokesman denied this.

There have been no particulars in regards to the doc, however Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem stated the 2 sides have appointed a committee to hammer out the agenda gadgets.

For the reason that Afghan-Taliban talks began in September, violence has spiked considerably. The Taliban have staged lethal assaults on Afghan forces whereas protecting their promise to not assault U.S. and NATO troops. The assaults have drawn a mighty retaliation the Afghan air drive, backed U.S. warplanes. Worldwide rights teams have warned either side to keep away from inflicting civilian casualties.

In Washington, U.S. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Workers, stated the navy’s plan for decreasing American troop ranges in Afghanistan to 2,500 mid-January has been authorized the performing secretary of protection, Christopher Miller. Milley declined to debate the plan past saying that the smaller U.S. drive would function from “a few bigger bases,” together with a number of smaller ones, to be able to proceed its present missions of combatting extremist teams like al-Qaida and coaching and advising Afghan protection forces.

Milley asserted that the U.S. has achieved “a modicum of success” in Afghanistan after greater than 19 years of conflict, on condition that there has not been a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist assaults on the U.S. homeland. Noting that President Donald Trump made the choice to scale back the U.S. drive to 2,500, Milley stated, “What comes after that, that can be as much as a brand new administration; we’ll discover that out on the 20th of January and past.”

In Brussels, NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg welcomed the breakthrough on the Afghan-Taliban talks, amid uncertainty over the alliance’s future in Afghanistan and urged for speedy progress on cease-fire and establishing a political street map.

“You possibly can talk about whether or not it’s a huge or a small step, however the necessary factor is that it’s step one,” Stoltenberg stated, after chairing a videoconference of NATO international ministers. “It’s the primary time really that the Taliban and the Afghan authorities are in a position to signal a doc agreeing on the framework, the modalities, for negotiations addressing a long-term, peaceable answer.”

NATO has roughly 11,000 troops in Afghanistan, however below the U.S.-Taliban deal, all international troops would depart the nation Might 1 if situations enable. Stoltenberg has stated that NATO faces a “tough dilemma” over what to do.

A choice on its future in Afghanistan, the place NATO has led worldwide safety efforts since 2003 within the hope of protecting extremist teams at bay, is anticipated to be made in February after President-elect Joe Biden takes workplace.

The Taliban at present management or maintain sway over almost half of Afghanistan and are at their strongest for the reason that 2001 U.S.-led invasion toppled their regime over sheltering al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Many Afghans, significantly in bigger city areas worry a return of their repressive regime that harshly punished those that defied their strict Islamic edicts. Not like after they dominated, the Taliban now say they may enable women to go to high school and girls to work and maintain public workplace, although they won’t enable a lady to turn out to be president or a chief justice of Afghanistan’s Supreme Court docket.

Related Press writers Robert Burns and Ken Guggenheim in Washington, Tameem Akhgar in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Lorne Cook dinner in Brussels contributed to this report.

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