President Ghani hopes gradual US withdrawal from Afghanistan

KABUL: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has warned a full withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan ahead of the selected time would affect the peace process between the government and Taliban.

Talking with TED, a US organization, president Ghani said the Taliban were part of the Afghan people and they could not be ignored. However, he added the Taliban should also accept that they could do nothing until they accepted the demand of Afghans. “So, there is need for a political solution,” he said.

President Ghani said now the environment for direct talks with was available and the first phase of negotiations would pave the way for peace dialogues under the leadership and ownership of Afghans. “Despite reduction in intense fighting, the number of victims is still very high”.

About casualties among security forces, the president said “the average death toll of Afghan forces on a daily basis is 30 to 35 and up to 70 are injured.”

President Ghani confirmed the number of US forces in Afghanistan has reduced to 8,600 now. “The US should not be concerned about Afghanistan, but about its own security given the threats of terrorism and an early withdrawal of US forces would not send a good message,” he said.

The president said the process of releasing Taliban’s and Afghan forces’ prisoners was ongoing and hoped the direct talks would start soon. “Afghanistan has no worries about the US decision, but the support structure is important.”

Based on the peace agreement signed between the US and Taliban in Doha, the US should reduce its troops in Afghanistan in 8,600 in 135 days after the agreement and withdraw all its troops in 14 months.

President Ghani said Afghan security forces were second to none in the region and the Afghan Air Force had been tripled. “Afghans can ensure their own security”, the president asserted. However, he warned a full withdrawal of US forces before the schedule would affect the peace process.

President Ghani hoped US forces’ withdrawal would be systematic and gradual, not a hurried one.

The Kabul Times

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