Kabul Optimistic On A Potential Peace Deal

The Afghan government leaders on Wednesday welcomed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remarks about a potential peace agreement with the Taliban as he said that Washington hopes Afghanistan achieves a peace deal ahead of the presidential elections – scheduled for September 28.

Accompanied by the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad Pompeo arrived in Kabul for an unannounced visit on Tuesday. He visited India after his trip to Kabul.

“It was a pleasure to host Secretary Pompeo today at Arg, where we discussed a wide range of issues, including peace, elections, and security. The Secretary expressed his strong support for the ongoing peace efforts and the upcoming presidential elections inSeptember,” Ghani tweeted on Tuesday.

“Peace is in the interest of Afghanistan so that war and violence are finished in the country,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, deputy spokesman to Abdullah Abdullah.

During the trip, Pompeo also held wide-ranging discussions with the Afghan leaders on some issues related to bilateral relations between the countries and the upcoming presidential elections.

“During the meeting, the US government announced its support to the election process and the peace process,” said Haroon Chakhansuri, spokesman to the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.

There is an optimism about a breakthrough in the stalled peace process in the seven round of talks between the US and Taliban in Doha.

“They inched very close behind the scene. I think we are away one or two steps from a peace deal,” said a former Taliban commander Abdul Shakoor Mutmaen.

US and Taliban negotiators are set to begin next round of talks in Doha in the next three days.

The Afghan government expects that this round of talks prove helpful in kicking off intra-Afghan talks.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said that the alliance strongly supports efforts by Khalilzad for peace in the country.

“First of all, we are strongly supportive of the peace efforts and all Allies support them and we are in close consultations with the US Chief Negotiator Ambassador Khalilzad. He has been here several times, consulting and briefing Allies and this will also be an issue we discuss at the meeting that starts tomorrow,” Stoltenberg said on Tuesday.

When asked if the NATO will still provide financial support to the Afghan security forces, the NATO chief said that NATO and its allies have committed to continue financial cooperation to Afghan forces until 2024.

“We will also continue to provide financial support and Allies have committed to provide continued financial support until 2024. Then, of course, the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan after a peace deal will, of course, depend on the content of the deal. But I think it is a bit too early to speculate exactly on what kind of presence we will have after a potential deal, because we haven’t seen the content of the deal yet,” added Stoltenberg.

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