Tal­iban say ‘ gen­eral’ dis­cus­sion held with U. S. spe­cial en­voy

The Republican Herald - - FRONT PAGE - BY KATHY GAN­NON

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Tal­iban held talks with the U. S. spe­cial en­voy tasked with find­ing a ne­go­ti­ated end to Afghanistan’s pro­tracted and in­creas­ingly bloody war, a Tal­iban of­fi­cial said Satur­day.

In a state­ment, Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid said the meet­ing with Zal­may Khalilzad was held Fri­day in the Mid­dle East­ern state of Qatar, where the Tal­iban main­tain a po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

Tal­iban po­lit­i­cal chief Ab­bas Stanikzai led the five- mem­ber del­e­ga­tion that dis­cussed with Khalilzad “ways of find­ing a peace­ful end to the oc­cu­pa­tion of Afghanistan,” the state­ment said.

It went on to say that the pres­ence of “for­eign forces” in Afghanistan was the big­gest con­cern of the Tal­iban. Mu­jahid said the two sides dis­cussed “find­ing a good way for the with­drawal of for­eign forces from Afghanistan.”

The U. S. Em­bassy in Kabul said only that Khalilzad was in the Afghan cap­i­tal Satur­day meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Ab­dul­lah Ab­dul­lah.

Khalilzad ar­rived in Kabul from Qatar, wind­ing up his first of­fi­cial trip since be­ing named spe­cial en­voy. He also vis­ited Pak­istan, the United Arab Emi­rates and Saudi Ara­bia.

In a state­ment Satur­day, Ghani said sim­ply that Khalilzad briefed a meet­ing of Afghanistan’s top of­fi­cials on the se­ries of meet­ings he has held in the re­gion since be­gin­ning his so­journ on Oct. 4. There was no men­tion of a meet­ing with the Tal­iban.

When he was ap­pointed ear­lier this month, the U. S. State Depart­ment said Khalilzad’s job was to find a peace­ful end to a war that be­gan more than 17 years ago and that has cost Wash­ing­ton in the neigh­bor­hood of $ 900 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to a re­port ear­lier this year from a U. S Congress ap­pointed watch­dog.

Of that $ 900 bil­lion, John Sopko, the spe­cial in­spec­tor gen­eral on Afghan re­con­struc­tion, said $ 720 bil­lion was spent on U. S. mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions.

“Dur­ing this time, the hu­man cost of the strug­gle against Afghan in­sur­gents and ter­ror­ist groups has led to more than 2,400 Amer­i­can mil­i­tary fa­tal­i­ties, about 1,100 among other mem­bers of the NATO- led Coali­tion, and tens of

from page a1 thou­sands of Afghan deaths,” Sopko said in a state­ment ear­lier this year.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump be­moaned the ex­tra­or­di­nary cost of the war in Afghanistan while cam­paign­ing for pres­i­dent, when he ad­vo­cated an end to U.S. in­volve­ment in the con­flict.

Since then, the U.S. pres­i­dent an­nounced an Afghan strat­egy that called on Pak­istan to do more to push the Tal­iban to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble and to end safe havens for in­sur­gents, an al­le­ga­tion Is­lam­abad de­nies.

Trump also handed great- er de­ci­sion- mak­ing pow­ers to U. S. gen­er­als on the ground in Afghanistan.

But the strat­egy has so far failed to stop Tal­iban ag­gres­sion and even the U. S.ap­pointed watch­dog says nearly 50 per­cent of the coun­try­side is ei­ther un­der Tal­iban in­flu­ence or in their con­trol. In many ar­eas of the coun­try, the govern­ment’s writ is re­stricted to the cities and dis­trict cen­ters.

Re­lent­less Tal­iban at­tacks on Afghan mil­i­tary out­posts have killed hun­dreds of Afghan Na­tional Se­cu­rity Force per­son­nel in re­cent months.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.