Afghan government seeks guarantees from US ahead of troop withdrawal

Afghan government seeks guarantees from US ahead of troop withdrawal

The US is preparing an agreement with the Afghan government to reassure Kabul that an American peace deal with the Taliban will not lead to the group reclaiming power after foreign troops withdraw.

Kabul is seeking continued US support for Afghan security forces, and for some American troops to remain and fight other insurgent groups, including ISIS.

Key points of the proposed agreement, which is under negotiation as the US seeks a deal with the Taliban to end the 18-year war, were exclusively shared with The National by sources close to the Afghan government.

“The US agreement with the Taliban will not mean that there will be a Talibanisation of Afghanistan, but it will indicate a start to the intra-Afghan dialogue,” a source close to the Afghan government said.

Despite continuing talks with the US, the Taliban has so far refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which it considers a puppet regime.

The Taliban insurgency is by some measures more powerful than at any time since the US invasion.

The group controls 59 of the country’s 407 districts and contests another 119, according to the US office for Afghanistan reconstruction. About 10 per cent of the population live in areas under Taliban control.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly stated his desire to end a war in which 2,430 American soldiers have died, including 10 this year.

The Afghan government hopes the US will agree to increasing its military presence in Afghanistan in the future “if the Taliban do not comply with their agreements and promises”, the source said.

The government is also seeking greater involvement in ceasefire negotiations. 

A top Afghan security official confirmed that Kabul was seeking an agreement with Washington.

He referred to it as a joint declaration that would be announced officially when the US had concluded its deal with the Taliban.

“The purpose of this will be to redirect all talks to Afghan government once the US is done with their preliminary agreement with Taliban,” the official said.

Read the full report on The National UAE