Washington’s campaign against terror groups in Afghanistan will continue unabated despite Taliban demands for a full US withdrawal from the country, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford said Wednesday, according to Washington Times report.
America’s continued military presence in the country is not up for debate, despite during a sharp escalation of both US and Russian peace talks seeking a political settlement with the Islamist Taliban forces, Dunford said.
“No one has suggested the US is going to leave Afghanistan until our counterterrorism interests are addressed. … That is nonnegotiable,” he said during a briefing at the Washington-based think tank Brookings Institute.
The US and its allies are worried about Daesh and other terror groups that have set up inside Afghanistan, even as the Taliban and the US-backed government in Kabul enter the 18th year of inconclusive fighting.
US negotiators, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, President Trump’s special envoy to the Afghan peace talks, have reportedly agreed to a draft timeline for the withdrawal of all US forces from the country. In response, the Taliban have agreed to cut all ties with groups like al Qaeda and the Daesh.
Top Taliban leaders have long sought the full withdrawal of all 14,000 remaining American troops from the country and have made the troop pullout requirement a main pillar of their negotiation strategy with Khalilzad’s team.