Kabul welcomes U.S. assurances on Taliban deal

Afghanistan has seen a surge in violence after an ‘in principle’ agreement was reached with militants

The Afghan government on Saturday welcomed a pledge by the Pentagon that the U.S. would only accept a “good deal” from the Taliban after a wave of insurgent attacks sparked concerns of a hasty U.S. withdrawal.

During a wide ranging press conference in Paris earlier on Saturday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper sought to allay fears that Washington was looking for a quick exit from Afghanistan as it inches closer to a potential deal with the Taliban.

“My view, the U.S. view is that the best way forward is a political agreement and that’s what we're working diligently on right now,” Mr. Esper told reporters.

“That doesn’t mean we’ll take any deal, but we want to make sure we have a good deal, a good enough deal that guarantees at least the security of our countries going forward and a brighter future for the Afghan people.”

Multiple attacks

The remarks were greeted warmly in Afghanistan where the Taliban in the past week has attacked several provincial capitals and targeted Kabul with suicide bombers. “The Afghan Government welcomes the latest remarks made by the Pentagon Chief on AFG peace process,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi wrote on Twitter. “We echo the need for sustainable peace, end of violence and a meaningful peace that would guarantee the security of Afghanistan and its allies.”

Kabul has been gripped by a surge in deadly violence even after the U.S. and the insurgents reached an agreement “in principle” that would see the U.S. pull thousands of troops from Afghanistan in return for various Taliban security promises.

According to parts of the deal made public so far, the Pentagon would pull about 5,000 of its roughly 13,000 or so troops from five bases across Afghanistan by early next year. The insurgents in turn will renounce al-Qaeda, promise to fight the Islamic State (IS) group and stop jihadists using Afghanistan as a safe haven.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 9:49:10 PM |

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