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Biden, Stoltenberg Discuss Counterterrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke to US President Joe Biden on Tuesday night about the “range of challenges that NATO allies face, such as countering international terrorism, including in Afghanistan and Iraq,” NATO said in a statement. 

Stoltenberg welcomed President Biden’s focus on rebuilding alliances, stressing that NATO is the place where Europeans and Americans meet “every day and that together, we can face challenges that none of our nations can face alone.” 

“They agreed to work together on preparing the NATO Summit in Brussels later this year, where leaders will take decisions to make our strong Alliance even stronger,” it said. 

Afghan peace 

President Joe Biden's administration has extended Zalmay Khalilzad’s mission as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation for an unspecified time period, US sources have told TOLOnews. 

US sources added that the Biden administration has started the assessment of the US-Taliban peace deal signed between the two sides in Doha on February 29, particularly the (secret) annexes to the agreement.  

The assessment will be wrapped up in three weeks' time, the sources said. 

“The process became lengthy due to the shortcomings that it has, also what has been carried out by Khalilzad towards the discussions and agreements--all were carried out in a unilateral manner,” said Mohammad Ismail, a former jihadi commander. 

“We believe that the US’s policy has been very wrong, they provided consecutive concessions to the Taliban over the past several months to reach their targets, their objectives were personal,” said Bahadur Aminian, the Iran ambassador to Kabul. 

This comes a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that a new chapter has been opened in Kabul and Washington relations and that the United States sees Afghanistan fundamentally as a partner. 

“A new chapter has been opened in our ties with our main partner the United States and it will continue,” President Ghani said at a cabinet meeting on Monday. “Our relations will be at the level of government-to-government.” 

On Friday, the United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Afghan counterpart NSA Hamdullah Mohib regarding the US commitment to the US-Afghan partnership and to peace for "all the people of Afghanistan," according to a statement by the US National Security Council. 

The Afghan government has in the past reacted cautiously with the mission by Khalilzad. 

Last month, Khalilzad during a trip to Kabul met various Afghan political leaders but couldn’t meet Ghani. 

The Afghan peace negotiations that started on Sept. 12 last year have made progress in their procedural rules. They took a three-month break and resumed their talks on Jan. 6. However, the Afghan republic and the Taliban’s negotiators have not held any meetings over the last 13 days to discuss the agenda of the talks. 

Experts said that the United States is expected to announce its stance on the Afghan peace process and the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the ministerial meeting of the alliance next month. 

Biden, Stoltenberg Discuss Counterterrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq

Stoltenberg welcomed President Biden’s focus on rebuilding alliances. 

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke to US President Joe Biden on Tuesday night about the “range of challenges that NATO allies face, such as countering international terrorism, including in Afghanistan and Iraq,” NATO said in a statement. 

Stoltenberg welcomed President Biden’s focus on rebuilding alliances, stressing that NATO is the place where Europeans and Americans meet “every day and that together, we can face challenges that none of our nations can face alone.” 

“They agreed to work together on preparing the NATO Summit in Brussels later this year, where leaders will take decisions to make our strong Alliance even stronger,” it said. 

Afghan peace 

President Joe Biden's administration has extended Zalmay Khalilzad’s mission as the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation for an unspecified time period, US sources have told TOLOnews. 

US sources added that the Biden administration has started the assessment of the US-Taliban peace deal signed between the two sides in Doha on February 29, particularly the (secret) annexes to the agreement.  

The assessment will be wrapped up in three weeks' time, the sources said. 

“The process became lengthy due to the shortcomings that it has, also what has been carried out by Khalilzad towards the discussions and agreements--all were carried out in a unilateral manner,” said Mohammad Ismail, a former jihadi commander. 

“We believe that the US’s policy has been very wrong, they provided consecutive concessions to the Taliban over the past several months to reach their targets, their objectives were personal,” said Bahadur Aminian, the Iran ambassador to Kabul. 

This comes a day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that a new chapter has been opened in Kabul and Washington relations and that the United States sees Afghanistan fundamentally as a partner. 

“A new chapter has been opened in our ties with our main partner the United States and it will continue,” President Ghani said at a cabinet meeting on Monday. “Our relations will be at the level of government-to-government.” 

On Friday, the United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with his Afghan counterpart NSA Hamdullah Mohib regarding the US commitment to the US-Afghan partnership and to peace for "all the people of Afghanistan," according to a statement by the US National Security Council. 

The Afghan government has in the past reacted cautiously with the mission by Khalilzad. 

Last month, Khalilzad during a trip to Kabul met various Afghan political leaders but couldn’t meet Ghani. 

The Afghan peace negotiations that started on Sept. 12 last year have made progress in their procedural rules. They took a three-month break and resumed their talks on Jan. 6. However, the Afghan republic and the Taliban’s negotiators have not held any meetings over the last 13 days to discuss the agenda of the talks. 

Experts said that the United States is expected to announce its stance on the Afghan peace process and the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the ministerial meeting of the alliance next month. 

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