As the US and the Taliban are close to signing a peace agreement after eight rounds of talks for finding a political settlement in Afghanistan, President Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that any peace deal should result in a ceasefire and direct negotiations with the group.
He said the Afghan government expects to be officially informed about the results of the US President Donald Trump’s meeting with his top advisors on the peace deal with the Taliban.
Mr. Sediqqi said that US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad briefed President Ghani ahead of the meeting with Mr. Trump.
“Any peace deal with the Taliban should result in a ceasefire and a halt in violence and an assurance that Afghanistan will not turn into terrorists safe haven,” Mr. Sediqqi told reporters at a press conference in Kabul on Saturday.
He said that another positive result of a peace deal should be that the Taliban accepts to engage in direct negotiations with the Afghan government and embrace a “political life”.
“This can be a good deal,” he said. “We hope that all efforts by Mr. [Zalmay] Khalilzad and the US will result in these issues.”
Mr. Sediqqi said that the time for signing the US-Taliban peace deal is not clear yet.
According to him, a joint statement will be issued between Afghanistan and the US.
“The main goal of the [joint] statement [between the US and the Afghan government] is that the United States and the western countries reaffirm their commitments to the people of Afghanistan against the rumors which say the agreement or any agreement which the US signs with the Taliban will result in departure from Afghanistan,” Mr. Sediqqi said. “They [the international community] want to clarify that it is not like this. The US commitment with Afghanistan is long term and permanent and it is based on the conditions in the country so that we achieve peace and combat the threats independently.”
This comes as the White House signaled progress Friday in preparations for a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan, saying that discussions between President Donald Trump and top advisors went “very well”.
Trump met at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf course with national security advisors including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, the White House said.
Also present were national security point man John Bolton and Mr. Khalilzad.
“Discussions centered around our ongoing negotiations and eventual peace and reconciliation agreement with the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan. The meeting went very well, and negotiations are proceeding,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.
Mr. Trump said in a tweet that he had a “very good” meeting on Afghanistan.
“Many on the opposite side of this 19-year war, and us, are looking to make a deal -- if possible,” he added.
Reports indicate that as part of a possible peace deal between the US and the Taliban, the US forces number will be reduced to 8,000 to 9,000 from the current 15,000.
“In continued close cooperation with the government of Afghanistan, we remain committed to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
The US and the Taliban concluded their eighth round of talks on Doha on August 12 which were focused on four key issues: US forces withdrawal, counterterrorism assurances, a ceasefire and intra-Afghan negotiations.