Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford has said that Washington does not want Afghanistan to become a sanctuary from which the US and its allies are threatened and that the country needs a negotiated peaceful settlement.
Mr. Dunford’s remarks come hours after US President Donald Trump said he will reduce the number of US troops from 14,000 to 8,600 and “then we’ll make a determination from there as to what happens”.
Mr. Dunford said that what is going to be required in Afghanistan is a negotiated peaceful settlement and that intra-Afghan dialogue will lead to that peaceful settlement.
“When I think about Afghanistan, I think about two things. Number one is we don’t want Afghanistan to be a sanctuary from which the homeland, the American people and our allies can be threatened,” he said. “And the other is we want peace stability in Afghanistan for the Afghan people.”
Mr. Dunford added: “When I think about... when you say we gonna withdraw, I don’t think about it as we gonna withdraw. I think we gonna initiate intra-Afghan dialogue ideally leading to peace and stability for the Afghan people,” he said.
Sources familiar with Doha talks said that Mr. Trump’s remarks on keeping US presence in Afghanistan have impacted the ongoing negotiations between US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban in Qatar.
The sources said that the talks are underway.
Meanwhile, the head of the High Peace Council, Mohammad Karim Khalili, said that the country’s mainstream political parties will not attend negotiations with the Taliban if the government’s negotiating team is not inclusive.
“Mr. President, it will be unfair if the efforts are aimed at forming a negotiating team from the Presidential Palace which will represent the palace [in intra-Afghan negotiations] in Oslo,” Mr. Khalili said at a gathering in Kabul on Friday.
The intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to begin after a peace deal is signed between the US and the Taliban.