Ottawa Citizen

U. S. official doesn’t trust British, Taliban ceasefire

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KABUL • The U. S. ambassador to Afghanista­n yesterday expressed deep unease over the British military’s ceasefire with the Taliban and subsequent withdrawal from a flashpoint town.

British troops moved out of the town of Musa Qala in north Helmand last week, after a truce was reached with tribal elders acting as intermedia­ries with the militia.

After months of heavy fighting in which eight British soldiers and hundreds of Taliban fighters died, they handed over to an Afghan militia raised from area men.

It is understood another such arrangemen­t is being negotiated in hotspot, Sangeen.

“ There is a lot of nervousnes­s about who the truce was made with, who the arrangemen­t was made with, and whether it will hold,” Ronald Neumann, the U. S. ambassador, said in an interview.

He said repercussi­ons of the takeover by Afghan forces must be “ rigorously tested” to ensure Musa Qala had not simply morphed into “ a sanctuary for an area governed by the Taliban.”

British commanders have denied the Taliban were directly involved in the truce negotiatio­ns.

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