United States defence secretary Lloyd Austin referred to as for a discount in violence in Afghanistan and mentioned extra progress is required in Afghan peace negotiations earlier than Western forces withdraw from the war-torn nation.
“Clearly, the violence is too high right now and more progress needs to be to be made in the Afghan-led negotiations,” Secretary Austin mentioned at a Pentagon news convention on Friday.
“I urge all parties to choose the path towards peace, and the violence must decrease now,” Austin mentioned a day after discussing Afghanistan with NATO defence ministers in Brussels.
The US “will not undertake a hasty or disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan” that places NATO forces in danger, Austin mentioned, including “no decisions about our future force posture have been made.”
“In the meantime, current missions will continue and, of course, commanders have the right and the responsibility to defend themselves and their Afghan partners against attack,” he mentioned.
New US President Joe Biden faces a thorny selection in Afghanistan: whether or not to withdraw all US forces by the end of April – as promised to the Taliban by the previous Trump administration – or lengthen the US troop presence whereas making an attempt to maintain troubled Afghan peace talks.
Taliban deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on February 16 referred to as on the US to honour its settlement relating to worldwide troop withdrawals and warned that the group wouldn’t permit persevering with interference in Afghan affairs.
Pakistan’s ambassador to the US mentioned on Friday the Biden administration ought to negotiate with the Taliban on any choice to preserve troops in the nation.
“The first party that needs to be consulted is the Taliban. That is where the process should start,” Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan instructed a web based discussion board sponsored by the Stimson Center.
“To present this as a fait accompli, I think, will only create difficulty,” Khan cautioned, in accordance to the Reuters news company.
In Washington, in the meantime, there are rising calls by overseas coverage leaders and members of Congress for a seamless US presence in Afghanistan.
The bipartisan US Afghanistan Study Group, mandated by Congress, really helpful a brand new method to Afghanistan earlier this month. Leaders of the group testified on Capitol Hill on Friday.
“We recommend that US troops remain beyond May 1,” mentioned Kelly Ayotte, a co-chair of the research group and a former Republican US senator.
“We believe a precipitous withdrawal of US and international troops in May, would be catastrophic for Afghanistan, leading to civil war and allow the reconstitution of terror groups which could threaten the United States,” Ayotte mentioned.
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after the September 11 al-Qaeda assaults. At the time, the Taliban managed the nation and had given al-Qaeda protected harbour.
Retired General Joseph Dunford, a former chairman of the US navy’s Joint Chiefs of Staff underneath President Barack Obama, mentioned the research group sees a possibility now for a “broader diplomatic effort in support of the Afghan peace negotiations”.
“There does in fact appear to be an end state that would satisfy all regional stakeholders to include Pakistan, China, Russia, India, and others,” Dunford mentioned.
Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress mentioned they recognise the scenario in Afghanistan is fragile and withdrawing now may end result in a lack of progress made in the course of the previous 20 years.
“A withdrawal made under current conditions will likely lead to a collapse of the Afghan state,” mentioned Representative Stephen Lynch, the Democratic chairman of a House Government Oversight subcommittee.
Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican, mentioned he doubts the Taliban could be relied upon for a sturdy peace settlement.
“Essentially, we’re discussing war termination, and banking on the concept that US involvement in the current civil war in Afghanistan will end when the primary threat – the Taliban – has committed to peace,” Gosar mentioned. “It seems rather impossible.”
The US and the Taliban reached an settlement in February 2020 – after months of negotiations in Doha, Qatar – that referred to as for a everlasting ceasefire, peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan authorities, and a withdrawal of all overseas forces by May 1.
Peace talks between the Taliban and Kabul authorities started in September however have been marred by persevering with battle, assaults and Taliban-linked assassinations.
There are about 2,500 US troops and 10,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan now. A US choice to stay previous May 1 would doubtless end result in renewed battle with the Taliban and require the deployment of two,000 or extra US forces, Dunford mentioned.