The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a meeting with Australian Defense Minister Linda Reynolds in Sydney reiterated that the US President Donald Trump is seeking a political solution which will pave the ground for troop reduction in Afghanistan.
“(US) President (Donald) Trump has made very clear that his desire is that we develop a diplomatic resolution that permits us to reduce the resources that are located in the country, while simultaneously ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a platform (from) where terror can strike the United States of America,” Pompeo said.
His remarks come as the eighth round of US-Taliban talks which seem to the be last round of the negotiations are underway in Doha where troop withdrawal is one of the main issues under debate.
The Australian Defense Minister meanwhile said the Afghan war has a political solution and that his country’s stance on Afghanistan is dependent on the results of the peace process and presidential election.
“It was very clear to me there that a negotiated settlement is the only way forward for peace in Afghanistan,” she said. “Our position is under constant review, as you would expect, and we are now waiting to see what happens with the 28 September elections and also with the next round of peace talks.”
Reynolds said they have not decided on their position in Afghanistan but added that they will take any future considerations in Afghanistan in terms of other regional priorities and issues.
“But again, whatever we do there has got to be at the behest of the Afghan government,” she said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Taliban’s political office in Doha, Suhail Shahin, said in a tweet that the two sides might reach an agreement on a timeline for foreign forces withdrawal and intra-Afghan negotiations.
Critics familiar with Doha talks said that the US and Taliban negotiators have agreed on US forces reduction in Afghanistan to 8,000.
“There is the possibility of a ceasefire between the US and the Taliban and then there is a possibility of a ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban after they sit in an intra-Afghan negotiation. There is the possibility of a reduction in the conflicts between the two sides,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.
Addressing a ceremony in Kabul on Sunday, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said efforts are underway to begin intra-Afghan negotiations.
“Afghans see peace as their priority, but that peace should be sustainable,” said Abdullah.
Officials said that the list of the 15-member negotiating team has been finalized and it will be made public in the near future.
“The list of the negotiating team will be announced on its time as it requires special measures and preparations,” said Najia Anwari, head of communications department of the State Ministry for Peace Affairs.
The intra-Afghan negotiations are expected to be held in Oslo after a peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban.