Afghan government under US pressure to consider Taliban demands, officials say

Afghan government under US pressure to consider Taliban demands, officials say

As donor nations and allies gathered in Geneva to decide the future of aid to Afghanistan, the Afghan government finds itself under immense pressure to compromise in ongoing negotiations with the Taliban to ensure continued US support.

On Monday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani appealed to the two-day Afghanistan Conference 2020, saying: “Any precipitous reduction in grant support will lead to major setbacks in public services, economic activity, and living standards”, which could make peace “difficult to sustain”, even after a deal with the Taliban.

The Afghan government is in a US-brokered and supported negotiation with the insurgent group in the hope of ending years of conflict. Sources in the Afghan government told The National that there is “strong pressure” from the US government to rush the negotiations with the Taliban before President Donald Trump leaves office in January.

“The US government doesn’t want to leave before having some form of a deal that could reflect back on the Trump administration,” said an Afghan official, who revealed that the pressure is nothing new and has been mounting for months, since the US signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020.

“If you see the US-Taliban deal, it was also finalised under a lot of pressure, wanting to have something before the elections. The Taliban exploited this need for urgency and the Afghan government was pressured into releasing Taliban prisoners … when the US threatened to cut aid to Afghanistan,” he said.

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