US to coordinate Afghan adjustments with Nato

Updated March 19, 2019

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Zalmay Khalilzad's assurance follows reports of Nato allies' upset with US for not involving them in Afghan peace process. ─ AP/File
Zalmay Khalilzad's assurance follows reports of Nato allies' upset with US for not involving them in Afghan peace process. ─ AP/File

WASHINGTON: The United States will coordinate adjustments in its presence in Afghanistan with its Nato allies, says US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad.

The assurance follows media reports that Nato allies were upset with Washington for not involving them in the Afghan peace process, which includes a series of meetings between US and Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.

Mr Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, heads the American team in these negotiations.

The reports claimed that at a recent meeting in Kabul Nato and other European allies were particularly upset with the presence of Qatari diplomats in the talks. They argued that if Qatar could be included in the meetings because it was hosting the talks why those who have contributed troops to the US-led international force in Afghanistan were ignored.

“Working closely with Nato and other partners and allies has been a priority from day one. We came together. We will coordinate adjustments in our presence together,” Mr Khalilzad tweeted. “And if we leave, we will leave together. Together for peace and security for Afghanistan and for us all,” he added.

Mr Khalilzad, who returned to Wa­­shington last week after the fifth round of US-Taliban talks in Doha, said in another tweet that the negotiations were moving in the right direction.

He said that since his return from Doha, he has briefed US governments leaders and “many others” about the Afghan Peace Process, including Spe­cial Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assis­tance Mission in Afghanistan Tada­michi Yamamoto, Indian Foreign Sec­retary Vijay Gokhale and Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Audun Halvorsen.

Since his return from Doha, Mr Khalilzad has faced severe criticism for not including the Afghan government in the talks. Last week Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib accused Mr Khalilzad of “delegitimising” the Kabul government by excluding it from deliberations.

He also claimed that Mr Khalilzad wanted to be “the viceroy” of Afghanistan.

The Trump administration reacted strongly to Mr Mohib’s statement and summoned him to the State Department to register its protest. US National Security Adviser John Bolton cancelled his meeting with Mr Mohib while the US media reported that Washington may refuse to give Mr Mohib visa for future visits, even though he has an American wife.

Media reports indicate that Mr Khalilzad repeatedly asked the Taliban to allow Afghan government representatives to participate in the talks but the insurgents have refused to hold direct talks with Kabul. The Afghan government argues that the US should also stay out of the talks that do not involve Kabul.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2019