Iran says Taliban must have Afghan role, but can’t dominate

Peace Talks Between Afghan Taliban and US to Take Place on Wednesday

Two days of talks were cancelled on Tuesday over the US's push for the involvement of Afghan officials, discussions over a ceasefire and the details of the Taliban's request of a prisoner exchange.

The Taliban have rejected numerous requests from regional powers to allow Afghan officials to take part in the talks, insisting that the United States is their main adversary in the 17-year war and that Kabul is a "puppet" regime.

The US special envoy is actively trying to broker a political solution to the Afghan conflict and has held multiple meetings with the leadership of Afghanistan as well as that of other countries in the region, including Pakistan.

Turkey has said it will host leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad former US ambassador to Afghanistan Iraq and the UN Credit Reuters  Jonathan Ernst  File
Zalmay Khalilzad former US ambassador to Afghanistan Iraq and the UN Credit Reuters Jonathan Ernst File

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani's Second Vice President, Mohammad Sarwar Danish, in a meeting with Wade Warren, the acting chief of the USAID said the draft agreement for peace which was prepared by the US-based RAND Corporation, impedes the efforts for peace by the Afghan government and its global partners. "We have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn't have enough power to make important decisions", a second Taliban official said. Pakistani officials deny offering safe havens to the Afghan Taliban and say their influence on the group has waned over the years.

Reports last month about Trump's plans to withdraw thousands of troops from Afghanistan triggered uncertainty in Kabul, which depends on the USA and other foreign powers for military support and training.

"They (Taliban) say that they do not want to talk with the Afghan government, yet they have accepted committing unforgivable crimes", said Abdullah.

Khalilzad "will lead an interagency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from January 8 to 21", the USA state department said on Wednesday.

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But the Taliban refuse to agree to U.S. demands that the Afghan government attend, saying they are simply a proxy of America - their real enemy.

Another Taliban source told Reuters the disagreement focused on Washington's insistence that Afghan government officials must be involved in the talks.

The document suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation shall end their current military missions in Afghanistan and withdraw all their personnel in three phases, over an expected period of 18 months, but adding that the USA civilian cooperation should continue in Afghanistan post deal. It adds that the United States may continue providing civilian assistance. He denied that Kabul was being marginalized in the peace process and said all countries pursuing negotiations were briefing the government every step of the way.

"No government, no institution and no personality, except the Afghan government has the authority to decide on issues such as peace and other major national issues of Afghanistan", said Mohammad Hedayat, media advisor to Danish. He has urged India to go beyond its existing role in supporting infrastructure development in the war-torn country, preferably by sending troops to improve the security situation in Afghanistan.

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The people pointed out that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the only ones that had recognised the erstwhile Taliban regime in Kabul, while Khalilzad served as the contact person for U.S. oil company Unocal, which helped the Taliban lobby with the USA state department in 1997 to recognise the regime in Kabul. It has cost Washington almost a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people.

The United States sent troops to Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington. It keeps around 14,000 troops there as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants.

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