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US Backs Afghan Republic Gov’t If Taliban Chooses Violence; Khalilzad

KABUL – Zalmay Khalilzad, US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation has said that the United States will continue supporting the Afghan republic government if the Taliban chooses violence and does not comply with peace.

His remarks came following his recent diplomatic visits to Doha, Tashkent, Kabul, Dushanbe and Berlin, Khamaa press reported Saturday.

Reiterating a statement released after the Berlin meeting, Khalilzad tweeted, “if the Taliban do not choose peace, a future based on consensus and compromise, then we will stand with Afghans who strive to keep the Republic intact”.

He stressed republic political unity is a must in such critical situations in Afghanistan, he added there is a unique international consensus for peace aimed at supporting the political settlement, end to the violence, and rejection to any attempts of taking power by military means.

Leadership from all conflicting sides in the country should grab the peace opportunity and negotiate a political settlement to end their four decades of war, Khalilzad said.

According to Khalilzad international consensus does not end at peace, the world remains committed and loyal in supporting Afghanistan as the nation enters a new phase.

Previously representatives and special envoys of France, Germany, Italy, Norway, UK, US, European Union, and the NATO in a joint statement stressed the need for continuous supports to Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and said it is an important move to ensure Afghanistan can defend itself against domestic and external threats.

Western envoys vowed to stay committed to UNSC resolution 2513 (2020) and opposed any establishment of political power in Afghanistan by force which would initiate a threat to the regional stability and interests of stakeholders, according to the released statement published on Friday by Germany’s Foreign Office.

The statement praised Afghans for widespread and sincere demands for an end to the violence, and lasting peace.

The envoys further elaborated that peace can only be achieved through inclusive political settlement among Afghans.

This comes as US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin said that his country is seeking a new chapter of relationship with Afghanistan after troops’ withdrawal.

At a joint press conference with Gen.Mark Milley, head of Chiefs of Staff, Austin said, “the President has decided to end America’s involvement in our longest war and we are going do just that, and so far, less than one weakened, the drawdown is going according to plan, at the same time, we are shifting to a new bilateral relationship with our Afghan security partners. We will work toward our common goals in some new and different ways”.

General Miley in his turn reiterated that “the Afghan National Security Forces and the government of Afghanistan at this time remain cohesive. The president of United States intent is to continue to support both the ANSF and the government of Afghanistan”.

Austin meanwhile reconfirmed America’s support to Afghanistan saying “We will continue to support them after we retrograde with funding, with logistics, we will remain partners with the Afghan government, with the Afghan military and certainly we hope to our continued support to Afghan security forces,”.

Speaking at a meeting of European Union Defense Ministers, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said that NATO has sent a very clear to message Taliban that “any attack on NATO troops will be met with a forceful response”, he added, “the drawdown of NATO troops and the end of the Resolute Support mission is not the end to our partnership with Afghanistan; it’s actually opening of a new chapter and we are now looking into how we can continue to provide support”.

He also reassured NATO’s assistance to Afghanistan and its defense forces, he said NATO is looking forward to how the organization can continue training and financially support Afghan forces.

“We are looking into ways to provide financial support, help with training and also support the international community in Afghanistan”, Stoltenberg said.

NATO strongly supports the peace process and a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan because it is the only way to maintain and preserve the decades of gains “we have made together”, NATO’s Secretary added.

But the former commander of US forces in Afghanistan Gen.David Petraeus previously expressed his concerns that withdrawal is not the solution for the endless war in Afghanistan.

He also said that equipment and “helicopters that we have sold to Afghanistan or given to them with our security assistance, various other weapons systems and so forth, again they don’t have a logistical system, the maintenance system,”

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