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Khalilzad Shows Afghan President U.S.-Taliban Draft Agreement, Pompeo Discusses It with NATO

Sept. 3, 2019 (EIRNS)—Months of negotiations between American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar have now resulted in a draft agreement in which the U.S. would withdraw 5,000 troops from Afghanistan. Khalilzad briefed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on the draft deal on Sept. 1. Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi then said Ghani will “study and assess” the details. “But for us, a meaningful peace or a path to a meaningful peace is the end of violence and direct negotiation with the Taliban,” he said.

“In principle, we have got there,” Khalilzad told TOLONews television in an interview, reported Reuters. “The document is closed.” In return for the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban would commit to not allowing ISIS, Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups to plan terrorist attacks on the U.S. from Afghan territory. Khalilzad told TOLONews that the aim of the deal was to end the war, and while he said it would lead to a reduction in violence, there is no formal ceasefire agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government. It would be up to negotiations among Afghans themselves to agree a settlement, he said. The agreement also still has to be approved by President Donald Trump.

The Afghan government has not been in the U.S.-Taliban talks, something which it has complained about repeatedly.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was at NATO headquarters in Brussels today, where he was to have briefed Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on the Afghan draft agreement. A NATO official told AFP that Stoltenberg and Pompeo would discuss “current security issues and preparations for upcoming meetings,” including the alliance’s summit in London in December. “We expect they will also discuss the peace process and the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan,” the official said.

The draft agreement announced by Khalilzad came against the background of relentless violence with attacks nearly every day, including two large attacks in the north of the country over the Aug. 31-Sept. 1 weekend, and a suicide bombing today, targeting the so-called Green Village, a compound in Kabul housing foreign organizations. At latest report, 16 people were killed, and 119 injured.

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