Militant group Taliban on Sunday cautioned that the Americans would lose the most for cancelling the negotiations to end the the 18-year-old war in Afghanistan, BBC reported. This came a day after United States President Donald Trump said that he had called off secret talks with the militant group as they took responsibility for a bombing in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.
“This will lead to more losses to the US,” Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, according to The Guardian. “Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase.” Mujahid also said that the Taliban and the Afghan government would engage in talks on September 23, however the latter has not confirmed this.
Another spokesperson of the militant group, Suhail Shaheen, tweeted in Arabic that the two sides had reached a final agreement a few days ago and it was decided that Qatar would announce the deal. “Everyone was satisfied,” Shaheen said. “At this time, the disappointing President Trump’s tweets have been unbelievable and certainly damaged his credibility.”
Soon after Trump called off the negotiations, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said that “real peace” would be possible if the militant group stopped the attacks and spoke to the government directly. The president’s spokesperson, Sediq Sediqqi, stated that it a direct negotiation with the group was a long-awaited wish. “We strongly believe in a process that can be led and owned by Afghan government and Afghan people,” the spokesperson said.
The United States asked its Special Ambassador for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad to come back to Washington, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday. On being asked if the negotiations were dead, he said: “For the time being they are.”
Meanwhile, Afghans welcomed Trump’s announcement with an analyst saying that there was “definitely a silver lining to this”. “There was total confusion before,” The Washington Post quoted analyst Haroun Mir as saying. “Everyone was afraid the US would sign a cease-fire but the Taliban would continue their war against the Afghan government and people. Now President Trump has personally rectified this with his own tweet.”
Nine rounds of discussions between the militant group and the United States had already tajen place in Doha, Qatar. On September 3, a top American negotiator had claimed that a peace agreement had been reached “in principle”, according to BBC.
Under the proposed deal, Washington had said it would withdraw 5,400 soldiers within 20 weeks in exchange for the militant group’s guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as its base for terrorism. Nearly 14,000 United States’ troops are currently deployed in the country.
Afghanistan has witnessed several terror attacks in the past few months amid US peace talks with the Taliban. The terror group wants all American and NATO troops to leave the country and is at its strongest now since the US took control over large parts of the country following the 9/11 attack.
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