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Monday, September 9, 2019

Afghan govt says real peace will come when Taliban stop violence

AFP, Kabul :
President Ashraf Ghani's office on Sunday (Sept 8) said real peace in Afghanistan was only possible when the Taliban stopped their violence and held direct talks with the government.
US President Donald Trump on Saturday cancelled peace talks with the Taleban's "major leaders" at a presidential compound in Camp David, Maryland after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul last week that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.
Taleban fighters, who now control more territory than at any time since the war started in 2001, launched assaults on the northern cities of Kunduz and Pul-e Khumri over the past week and carried out two major suicide bombings in the capital Kabul.
"Real peace will come when Taleban agree to a ceasefire," Ghani's officials said in statement in response to Trump's cancellation of secret peace talks.
In a weekend bombshell, Trump said that he had planned previously unknown talks with the two sides on Sunday in Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but that the Taleban's persistent, grisly campaign of violence made them untrustworthy partners.
"Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taleban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday," Mr Trump said in a tweet.
"Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations." "What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn't, they only made it worse!" Mr Trump said.
Trump's surprise announcement left in doubt the future of a draft peace accord worked out last week by Zalmay Khalilzad, the special US envoy for peace in Afghanistan. If realised, the summit would have been the latest high-profile, high-stakes diplomacy by the mogul-turned-president, who is fond of dramatic gestures.
Under the draft accord some 5,000 US troops would be withdrawn over the coming months in exchange for guarantees Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the United States and its allies.
A full peace agreement to end more than 18 years of war would depend on "intra-Afghan" talks involving officials and civil society leaders as well as further agreement on issues including the remainder of the roughly 14,000-strong US forces as well as thousands of other Nato troops.