Taliban have agreed to reduce Afghan casualties: US envoy

Updated 16 Oct 2020

Email

US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad. — Reuters/File
US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The Taliban have promised US forces to reduce casualties in Afghanistan after a wave of violence raised questions about peace talks, a US envoy said on Thursday.

“At present too many Afghans are dying. With the re-set, we expect that number to drop significantly,” Zalmay Khalilzad, who negotiated a February 29 deal with the Taliban to pull out US forces from the war-torn country, wrote on Twitter.

Khalilzad said that he and General Austin Miller, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, met several times with the Taliban to discuss “strictly adhering” to the terms of the agreement.

“This means reduced numbers of operations,” Khalilzad said. “Attacks have been on the rise in recent weeks — threatening the peace process and alarming the Afghan people and their regional and international supporters.”

Under the Feb 29 agreement, the Taliban agreed not to allow Afghanistan to be used by foreign extremists — the original reason for the US invasion after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks — and halted operations against Western forces.

The Taliban did not promise to end violence against the internationally recognised government in Kabul but said they would discuss a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire” in peace talks.

Those talks began last month in Doha although there has been little apparent progress, with disputes even on the nature of how to negotiate.

The head of Nato, which leads the Afghanistan operations, said that the alliance was committed to the nation’s security and that he had spoken to Khalilzad.

Published in Dawn, October 16th, 2020