US, NATO Will Decide On Afghanistan Together: Khalilzad

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who is on a multi-nation visit on Afghan peace, has said that the United States and NATO will make a shared decision on remaining in Afghanistan or leaving the country. 

Khalilzad said in a tweet on Thursday that he briefed the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Afghan peace process and thanked them for the “great sacrifices” made and their ongoing commitment.

Khalilzad said that he assured NATO and its allies continued full coordination.

“We went to Afghanistan together, will adjust our presence together, and if we leave, will leave together,” Khalilzad added.

Khalilzad’s remarks come amid the peace talks between the US negotiators and Taliban members have entered its seventh round.

The Taliban has repeatedly said foreign troop withdrawal is a pre-condition for peace. In their meeting with the Afghan politicians in Moscow last month also the group rejected announcing a ceasefire during Eid al-Fitr and said reaching a ceasefire is impossible unless foreign forces leave Afghanistan.

A US Forces Spokesman in Afghanistan Colonel Dave Butler, however, said the Afghan and foreign forces support and protect the Afghan people.

Butler said the Afghan people want peace and that they support their demand.

“We have heard the Afghan people’s demand for peace and we support that demand,” Butler said.

Meanwhile, on Thursday Khalilzad met with the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and discussed Afghan peace.

Khalilzad said the US and EU believe that the Afghan peace should be prioritized.

“We (US and the EU) share a strong conviction on why peace is the priority, how intra-Afghan negotiations get us there, and what regional economic potential peace unlocks,” Khalilzad tweeted.

Meanwhile, Acting Defense Minister Assadullah Khalid on Thursday said the government will stop any deal in the peace talks which would lead to the collapse of the Afghan Defense and Security Forces.

“We will stand against any ‘secret deal’, under any name, under any cover and in anywhere, which creates a problem for Afghanistan or starts another war, or causes us to lose the achievements of the (past) 18 years,” Khalid said at a ceremony in Zabul.

Khalilzad is supposed to meet the Taliban members in Doha in the near future which will be his seventh meeting with members of the group.

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