The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that Washington is not seeking a permanent military presence in Afghanistan as the Taliban says they are close to finalizing a peace agreement with the United States.
Addressing comrades and veterans at the American Legion’s 101st National Convention in Washington on Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo said no one knows how the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan will end.
But he clarified that the US President Donald Trump has committed to make sure that “we get it right”.
“America has never sought a permanent military presence in Afghanistan. And all sides recognize the time to move on. So for a year and continuing today we continue to work to get clear-eyed engagement with all Afghans. We don’t know how these efforts towards peace and reconciliation will end but President Trump is committed to making sure that we get it right,” Mr. Pompeo said.
Meanwhile, a Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen who is also part of the Doha talks said Wednesday that the group is close to finalizing the peace agreement with the United States.
“We hope to have good news soon for our Muslim and independence-seeking nation,” Mr. Shaheen said in a tweet.
The US and the Taliban have agreed on a 15-month gradual withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan while the US has also agreed on the Taliban’s counter-terrorism assurances, according to analysts familiar with the talks.
“It is said that Mr. Khalilzad will also travel to Kabul and then to another capital. The date for signing [of the peace deal] will also be announced very soon and it could be signed in Qatar,” Afghan journalist Ayoub Khawreen said.
But, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah reiterated that all critical issues related to Afghanistan will be discussed in intra-Afghan negotiations.
“Main discussions will be conducted among the Afghans at the intra-Afghan talks,” Mr. Abdullah said.
Presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, meanwhile, said the Afghan government will enter into talks with the Taliban from a powerful position.
He told reports that the Afghan government is firmly committed to ending the war and that the issue of US forces withdrawal should be assessed within the framework of mutual agreements between the two countries.
“Mr. Khalilzad will come to Afghanistan to meet politicians and he will explain that what has been agreed between the United States and the Taliban,” said Batur Dostum, a senior member of Junbish-e-Milli party led by First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum.
“These negotiations and the results related to these talks should be shared with the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, otherwise, the talks will not end the war,” presidential candidate Faramarz Tamanna said.