US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad

PESHAWAR: The initial draft of the peace agreement between the US and the Taliban for ending 18-year war in Afghanistan has been finalised and now the US is taking different stakeholders into confidence over the draft.

On Monday, the US special envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad met Ashraf Ghani in Kabul and showed him the draft of a proposed agreement with the Taliban. Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has also been taken into confidence over the draft.

The US envoy also held talks with former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, former vice president Mohammad Younus Qanooni, second deputy chief executive Mohammad Mohaqiq, and other politicians in Kabul and discussed issues around the peace agreement.

The draft has been finalised after nine rounds of talks between the two sides in the past 10 months. According to initial draft, the US troops will leave five bases in Afghanistan in the first phase. The withdrawal will happen within 135 days if Taliban meet the conditions of the agreement.

Khalilzad said in an interview with an Afghan channel that the US and the Taliban have reached an agreement in principle, but it is not final until US President Donald Trump approves it.

The US envoy said that as part of the agreement, at the first stage, the provinces of Kabul and Parwan — where the Bagram Airfield is located — will see a reduction in violence. He made it clear that the use of the term ‘Islamic Emirate’ by the Taliban for Afghanistan by force will never be accepted. He said war will be the result if one sides try to endorse its ideas on other by force.

Meanwhile, Afghan president’s spokesman said efforts of the US and other partners will yield results when the Taliban enter direct negotiations with the Afghan government.  Sediq Sediqqi said the Afghan government hopes these efforts will lead to an end to the conflict.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also headed to Brussels on Monday to discuss the proposed Afghan peace deal with the Nato chief.

At present, the US has 14,000 troops in Afghanistan that mainly assist the Afghan forces in operations.

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