Amid the ongoing efforts for bringing the Taliban to the peace table with the Afghan government, Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander of the US Central Command, said that politically Afghanistan is not ready for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops.
Votel said that Pentagon has not received any order for troop withdrawal.
He said the US needs to remain in the region in order to prevent the activities of extremist groups such as Daesh and al-Qaeda.
“We have not been directed to withdraw. There are no orders to withdraw anything. It is certainly a function of the conditions on the ground, but it also is of a function of the conditions in the political process as well. And so, as I indicated, as I talk about my best military advices, we should make decisions based on the political progress. The political conditions where we are in the reconciliation right now, don’t merit that,” said Votel.
Votel’s remarks come amid New York Times has reported that the US and the Taliban in Qatar in principle has agreed on two key issues over Afghanistan peace that includes US forces withdrawal and a commitment that Afghanistan soil will not be used against other nations.
Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the achievements of the past one and half decade gained following the collapse of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, should not be sacrificed in the peace talks.
Stoltenberg said that peace should be built upon the achievements, especially the human rights and women rights.
“For any peace to be sustainable, it will need to be built on the achievements that we have made in recent years, including on human rights and the rights of women,” said Stoltenberg.
In the meantime, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Afghanistan once again should not become a rivalry ground between big powers.
Wang said China as a neighbor of Afghanistan wants a peaceful Afghanistan and that it supports the Afghan peace process.
“Afghanistan should not again become an arena of great power rivalry, nor should it be subject to incessant conflicts or wars. As Afghanistan’s neighbor and friend, China will respect its people's wishes and needs, continue to do its best for pushing forward reconciliation and reconstruction in Afghanistan,” he said.
Wang said that in order to make Afghanistan's reconciliation a success, the international community should provide firm support to the peace process.