Afghan leader rejects foreign interference as talks advance

Afghan leader rejects foreign interference as talks advance

Afghan leader rejects foreign interference as talks advance

The two sides have been discussing an agreement under which USA forces would withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban would guarantee the country would not revert to being a launch pad for global terrorist attacks.

As U.S. and Taliban negotiators appeared to be closing in on an accord, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on August 11 said Afghanistan's future "cannot be decided outside".

While Ghani insists that the upcoming September 28 presidential election is crucial for giving Afghanistan's leader a powerful mandate to decide the country's future after years of war, Khalilzad is seeking a peace deal by September 1, weeks before the vote.

Talks on a deal that would allow the United States to end its longest war and withdraw troops from Afghanistan have ended without agreement.

"We want peace and we want participation in the peace process".

But the USA is pushing for Taliban agreement on two other elements: power-sharing talks with the US-backed government and a ceasefire.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is seeking a peace deal by September 1, weeks before the vote.

Ghani and his government have not been involved in the negotiations. A day later the group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that targeted security forces in Kabul.

The Taliban control about half of Afghanistan and are now at their strongest since the US-led invasion toppled their five-year-old government in 2001.

"The Afghan people want a strong, efficient and responsible government, and this is not possible without elections", Ghani said.

Repeated attacks in Afghanistan over the past several months have killed and wounded hundreds of innocent Afghans, and shown the world the fragile and worsening state of security in the conflict-stricken country. More than 2,400 US service personnel have died in Afghanistan since then.

Despite President Ghani's offer in February for peace talks "without preconditions", the Taliban have shown no interest, dismissing the peace overtures as a "conspiracy".

US President Donald Trump unveiled a new strategy for Afghanistan past year, vowing to deploy more troops, on top of the 11,000 already in the country, to train and advise Afghan security forces. We don't want a peace in which Afghans wouldn't have dignity. "We don't want brain drain and we don't want investment drain".

The U.S. has pressed for a cease-fire and a framework for inter-Afghan talks, but so far the insurgents have refused to recognize the Afghan government, dismissing it as a U.S. puppet.

The Taliban and the United States have both reported significant progress in their negotiations, with one Taliban official saying a pact could be signed this week after the Eid holiday.

The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in Afghanistan in 2014.

President Donald Trump has publicly expressed his exasperation with America's continued involvement in Afghanistan and a desire to bring troops home.

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