KABUL (SW) – The top US diplomat in Kabul told Salam Watandar in an exclusive interview Washington was not giving up on peace drive despite ensuing Taliban led advances on towns and villages.
Ross Wilson, Chargé d’Affaires to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said there would be meetings next week in the Qatari capital Doha that aim to expedite the intra-Afghan peace talks. “That (meetings) aim to refocus those talks and push the discussions into a position where a breakthrough and a settlement might be in view… We have not given up and we do not intend to”, said the US diplomat.
Last month, the latest round rejuvenated of intra-Afghan negotiations failed to deliver a breakthrough with the Afghan government and the Taliban only vowing via a joint statement to continue and expedite high level peace talks in Doha, Qatar.
The joint statement issued after two days of talks late on Sunday said the two sides also vowed to safeguard civilian lives, infrastructure and services delivery works in the war-ravaged country.
“They (both sides) realize the need of an agreement that can address the interests and demands of all women and men of Afghanistan in light of the Islamic principles. They (both sides) are determined to stay engaged in negotiations at high level to reach such an agreement, and for reaching this aim continue such meetings”, said the joint statement.
Minutes after the joint statement, the Taliban spokesman Mohammed Naeem categorically rejected any agreement on ceasefire or release of prisoners.
Parallel to these talks, after overrunning nearly 200 rural districts, the Taliban began assaults on major cities on Friday as they marched on Herat, causing panic and anxiety in this third biggest city of an estimated half a million inhabitants.
In the interview with Salam Watandar, Ambassador Wilson underlined the resolute support for the Afghan forces would also continue. “We work to expedite delivery of helicopters and ammunitions, we have carried out a number of air strikes (against the Taliban) that have had significant effects. And, we intend to continue”, he added.
Responding to a question regarding the Doha Agreement with the Taliban, the US envoy said the principle goal of the Doha deal was to get the negotiation started for a political settlement to end decades of conflict in Afghanistan.
“That remains a significant accomplishment”, he said, adding the deal enticed enthusiasm all over Afghanistan, which remains the objective of the US here.
Following complete withdrawal of the US troops in line with President Joe Biden’s exit strategy, Ambassador Wilson said support for the security sector in Afghanistan would remain top priority for Washington followed by humanitarian and economic aid.
“Clearly, our most immediate set of priorities have to do with the security sector i.e. continuing backing and supply for the Afghan Air Force, training for Afghan pilots, helping sustain the air force, keeping it operational, effective and well-supplied”, he said.
Ambassador Wilson added the US air strikes are visible signs of assurance for the Afghan soldiers that they are not alone in fight against terrorism.
The US envoy underlined the need for unity and concerted efforts among the Afghan leaders to rally around the republic and defend the people.