Afghan peace chief says US troops withdraw too soon – Times of India

ANKARA: the main envoy for peace in Afghanistan To contact Abdullah said on Saturday that the United States’ decision to start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan came too soon, as his country still struggles to achieve peace and security in an ongoing conflict.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Abdullah also described as “shocking” an Australian military report which found evidence that Australian elite troops illegally killed 39 Afghan prisoners.
He welcomed the decision of the Australian authorities to prosecute the authors.
Abdullah spoke in Ankara where he requested Turkey’s support for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban taking place in Qatar to end decades of war. The talks have made little progress so far.
“This is the decision of the US administration and we respect it,” Abdullah said of the US decision this week to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan from over 4,500 to 2,500.
“Our preference would have been that with improved conditions this should have happened.”
Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller announced that Washington would downsize troops in Iraq and Afghanistan by mid-January, in line with President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring US forces home.
Afghan officials have expressed concern that a rapid reduction in US troops could strengthen the Taliban’s negotiating hand, as militants still lead a full-fledged insurgency against government forces.
“It’s not as if things will turn out the way we want,” Abdullah said, adding, however, that he welcomed the fact that 2,500 troops will remain and that NATO will also maintain its presence.
The chief negotiator said he was confident that United States will continue to support the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban during the presidential period Joe bidenadministration of.
“It remains to be seen what form or what form this will take, but they will certainly push for a peaceful settlement,” Abdullah said.
Abdullah, who shared power in the last Afghan government as chief executive and before that as foreign minister, warned that “a comprehensive settlement will result from negotiation between the Afghan government and the Taliban” , regardless of any new contribution from the new US administration.
Washington signed a deal with the Taliban in February to pave the way for Doha talks and the eventual withdrawal of US forces. The Americans have defended the deal as Afghanistan’s best chance for lasting peace.
Abdullah’s meetings with the president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and other Turkish officials came days after Australia revealed a war crimes report that found evidence that Australian elite troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners, farmers and civilians.
“It was shocking,” Abdullah said of the report, but welcomed the fact that Australia “spoke clearly about it”. He added, “There is the promise, the prospect of prosecution for those who committed these heinous crimes that will count. It will help prevent these types of crimes.”
The senior Afghan official also said he had called on Turkey to “reinvigorate” its efforts in favor of the peace process, and suggested that Turkey appoint a “special envoy” to support the negotiations.

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