WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump has said that “some things” will be announced about Afghanistan in couple of weeks as his Afghan envoy insisted that accelerating the peace process was the best option for tackling terrorist attacks in the country.
“We have a very, very good view. I mean, some things are going to be announced over the next couple of weeks as to what happened, who’s been taken out,” Mr Trump said in a Sunday evening press talks.
“A lot of people have been taken out that are very bad, both ISIS and Al Qaeda.”
Mr Trump, however, did not offer details of this announcement.
Zalmay Khalilzad, Mr Trump’s special envoy for Afghanistan, while commenting on the latest terrorist attacks in that country, said that the best way to end terrorism was to increase efforts for peace.
“We must accelerate the Afghan Peace Process including intra-Afghan negotiations. Success here will put Afghans in a much stronger position to defeat ISIS,” said Mr Khalilzad in a tweet he sent out hours after an ISIS suicide bomber killed 63 people at a wedding party in western Afghanistan.
“Now the priority must be an honourable & lasting peace and a sovereign & united Afghanistan at peace with itself and posing no threat to any other country,” he wrote in another tweet on Monday.
Mr Khalilzad has been holding talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, for almost a year now and returned to Washington last week for further consultations. Mr Khalilzad was one of the senior aides who attended Mr Trump’s Cabinet meeting on Afghanistan on Friday where the US president reviewed the details of a possible deal with the Taliban.
After the meeting, several officials told US media outlets that the United States and Taliban were close to announcing a peace agreement, which would include a schedule for initial withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
The White House also announced that President Trump’s national-security advisers and Cabinet members had spoken positively about the Afghan peace talks, which were proceeding towards a conclusion.
“Just completed a very good meeting on Afghanistan. Many on the opposite side of this 19-year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible,” Mr Trump in a tweet he released after the meeting.
In Doha, the Afghan Taliban said the killing of the brother of their leader in an Aug 16 bomb attack in Quetta will not derail peace talks with the United States.
Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada was not in the mosque when the bomb went off but his younger brother, Hafiz Ahmadullah, was among those killed.
In a statement issued by his office this weekend, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the agreement being negotiated with the Taliban would include a reduction in violence and a ceasefire, “ensuring that Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the United States or her allies, and bringing Afghans together to work towards peace.”
US officials, interviewed by various media outlets this weekend, said the administration wanted a peace deal finalized by Sept 1.
Published in Dawn, August 20th, 2019