‘Tremendous support to Afghan peace process’

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: US President Donald Trump, soon after his arrival in India on a two-day visit, said the Afghan peace agreement had drawn tremendous support. The US and the Taliban, at the end of a week-long reduction in violence across Afghanistan, are optimistic of signing a landmark peace deal in Doha.
“It has received tremendous support,” CNN quoted Trump as telling reporters accompanying him from Ahmedabad to Agra on Monday.
A day earlier, the US president — a critic of America’s longest war in Afghanistan — told journalists at the White House the Taliban were tired of fighting and wanted to reach a peace agreement with the US.
The time had come for the US troops to come home from Afghanistan, he said, remarking: “We think they want to make a deal; we want to make a deal. I think it’s going to work out. We’ll see.”
Meanwhile, China hopes a potential peace agreement between the United States and the Taliban will lead to an orderly withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.
The expected deal, which might be signed later in the month, would also prevent terrorist outfits from exploiting the uncertain situation in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said the other day.
Zhao Lijian told a media briefing in Beijing on Monday: “We welcome the news that the US and the Afghan Taliban will reach and sign a deal.”
China had maintained close communication and coordination with the relevant quarters with regard to the latest situation in the war-devastated country. He added China firmly supported an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process that encouraged the parties concerned to strengthen dialogue.
China believed the deal, without causing a security vacuum, would stop terrorist organizations from taking advantage of the situation in Afghanistan.
“We respect the Afghan presidential election procedures and support the Afghan people to independently decide the future of their country,” the foreign ministry spokesman said. He promised China would continue working with the new government in Kabul and people from all walks of life to promote peace, stability and development in Afghanistan.
Media reported the other day that Foreign ministers from 27 countries have been invited to Doha, the capital of Qatar, to attend a peace deal signing ceremony between the US and the Taliban. According to sources, the representatives of five different organizations of the United Nations had also been invited to the much-awaited agreement between the US and the Taliban set to be signed on February 29.
US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad will sign the agreement on behalf of the US while US Foreign Secretary Mike Pomepo will be present on the occasion. The Taliban and US sides have not commented about this so far.
Signing of the US-Taliban agreement is expected to be followed by intra-Afghan talks. Qatar Special Representative Dr. Mutlaq Al Qahtani also visited Kabul on Monday and briefed President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani on recent developments pertaining to peace talks.
The reduction in violence presents a genuine opportunity for a sustained peace agreement within Afghanistan between the Taliban, the U.S., and the Afghan government. The success of the progress of this deal hinges on the cohesion of all facets of the Taliban and the increasingly unpredictable Trump Administration not to break the quasi-ceasefire. Nevertheless, all parties remain increasingly positive about this agreement and many experts believe it will lead to a progressive era of peace talks between these parties.
While the reduction in violence in no way means the end of all conflict within Afghanistan, as there are many other militants groups waging war against the Afghan Government and people , it does mean however that conflict will cease, at least for a time, with the largest militant group in Afghanistan.
The conflict in Afghanistan has now been ongoing for 18 years and is currently the longest war in the history of the United States. Though the reduction is only a small step in the road to a long-term peace deal, it is an important and progressive move in the right direction.
The Taliban have been heavily involved in ensuring this deal will move forward.

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