Mon, Sep 09, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Trump’s canceling Taliban talks met with relief in Kabul

AFP, KABUL

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi gestures yesterday during a news conference in Kabul.

Photo: AFP

US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he had called off negotiations with the Taliban, apparently ending a year-long diplomatic push to exit the US’ longest war, has left the withdrawal deal shrouded in uncertainty, but in the streets of Kabul, some residents expressed their satisfaction at Trump’s move.

“It is good that the talks have been canceled, there should be intra-Afghan talks, and people should be involved in it, and they should be informed about it,” 52-year-old Mir Dil said yesterday.

If the Taliban “had accepted peace, they should have announced a ceasefire and then the talks should have moved forward,” he added.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office cautiously saluted the “sincere efforts of its allies” after Trump tweeted that he had canceled unprecedented — albeit separate — meetings with the Taliban and Ghani at Camp David, Maryland.

The office also “insisted that a real peace can only be achieved if the Taliban stop killing Afghans and accept a ceasefire, and face-to-face talks with the Afghan government.”

Trump’s announcement late on Saturday that he would “call off peace negotiations” appears to abruptly end, at least for now, a nearly year-long diplomatic process led by veteran US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who held nine rounds of talks with the Taliban, mostly in Qatar.

Many Afghans had expressed deep unease throughout the talks, from which their internationally recognized government has been excluded, seeing them as a beaten US selling out in a bid to escape Afghanistan after 18 years of grueling war.

“It was a good opportunity for [the Taliban], but it was wasted because they did not stop attacks,” 22-year-old Ahmad Jawed said.

“I’m personally happy that the US-Taliban talks have collapsed,” said Hamid Akbar, a 24-year-old shopkeeper. “If the Taliban come back in some form, the country will go backwards, and Afghanistan will be isolated again.”

Davood Moradian, director of the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, said the top US negotiator, Afghan-born Khalilzad, was “solely responsible.”

“He excluded not only the Afghan government, but also important stakeholders in Washington and US allies, including the EU, NATO and India,” Moradian said.

He criticized Khalilzad for giving “the illusion that the US is desperate to leave Afghanistan, with or without a working agreement.”

Ghani’s office affirmed that it was committed to working with the US and other allies to bring a lasting peace.

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