Pakistan freed Taliban co-founder at United States request: Envoy | #99429

Cheryl Sanders
February 11, 2019

Citing unnamed Defence Department officials, the newspaper said the U.S. attacks had reached the highest level since 2014, with the surge having started during the fall, The peace talks followed President Donald Trump's announcement that he would begin withdrawing USA troops from Afghanistan and wind down the almost 18-year war.

"We are in the early stages of a protracted process to end the long suffering of the Afghan people and to protect the United States ... from terrorism from Afghanistan", Khalilzad said during his first public appearance since meeting with Taliban officials last month in Doha, Qatar.

Khalilzad, who is leading talks with the Taliban, was at the US Institute of Peace in Washington to discuss an ongoing push for a political settlement to the 17-year-old Afghanistan conflict.

The envoy, who is a former USA ambassador to Kabul, also called for direct talks to begin as soon as possible between the Taliban and the Afghan government, which thus far has not been involved in Khalilzad's talks.

The Pakistani assistance, which has not been reported in such detail before, also includes exerting pressure on Taliban leaders who fail to cooperate, including by detaining members of the militants' families, the insurgents say. It also rejected the key condition for peace set by the Taliban: the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan.

She raised various options for dealing with these concerns in the context of the withdrawal agreement in line with her commitments to the parliament.

Khalilzad was a major player in George W. Bush's administration when the United States first invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

Khalilzad is seeking an agreement in which Taliban would negotiate in good faith with the Afghan government and commit to ending any terrorism threat within the country.

But he also admitted that the "elections make the peace agreement more complicated".

Mullah Baradar was recently released by Pakistan at his request, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday.

The Afghans, he asserted, must sit across the table with each other and come to an agreement about their future of their country.

Additionally, the Taliban have promised not to shelter foreign extremists, but experts say they can not be trusted and even now are helping to hide such militants.

In his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Trump said the time has come "to at least try for peace".

It would be better for Afghanistan to have a peace agreement before the presidential elections scheduled for July 20, according to the top US envoy for Afghanistan. Taliban officials alleged publicly this week that the United States had agreed to remove half of its troops from Afghanistan by May, a statement Khalilzad called false.

"We first and foremost have to put an end to the occupation and then focus on resolving our internal issues".

While the USA talks with the Taliban have focused on troop presence and assurances that terrorist networks would not be given haven, Khalilzad said intra-Afghan talks could also deal with human rights, freedom of the press and the role of women, who were harshly oppressed under Taliban rule.

Other reports by iNewsToday