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Afghan Officials Express Concern Over Draft U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal

People inspect a destroyed oil pump station a day after a truck bomb blast that targeted Green Village compound in Kabul on September 3.
People inspect a destroyed oil pump station a day after a truck bomb blast that targeted Green Village compound in Kabul on September 3.

Afghan officials say they support progress toward peace but are concerned about a draft agreement reached "in principle" between U.S. and Taliban negotiators on ending their 18-year conflict.

Afghan presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said in a series of tweets on September 4 that despite seeing a draft accord, questions remained over the contents of a deal and how it would be implemented.

"The Afghan government supports any progress in the peace process that will lead to lasting peace and an end to the war in Afghanistan, but the main concern of the Afghan government in the U.S. agreement with the Taliban is that of the consequences and dangers. How will they be prevented?" he said.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. diplomat who has led nearly a year of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar, told RFE/RL on September 2 that the two sides had reached a deal "in principle" to end hostilities.

Under the draft peace deal, the Taliban agreed that any Afghan territory it controls in the future will not be used as a sanctuary for terrorists to launch attacks against the United States and its allies.

U.S. and Taliban negotiators also agreed on the gradual "reduction and withdrawal" of Western forces from Afghanistan, Khalizad said.

News of the deal prompted nine former U.S. ambassadors on September 3 to warn that Afghanistan could collapse into "total civil war" if the United States withdraws its forces before a "real" peace deal involving the Kabul government is reached with the Taliban.

Sediqqi echoed those sentiments in his tweets.

"As former officials and U.S. senators have concerns about the implications of this memorandum, the Afghan government is also concerned, and we therefore call for clarity on this document to address its dangers and consequences," he said.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Washington would reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan by almost half, to 8,600, if the peace deal was finalized.

The Taliban, which refuses to negotiate with the Afghan government calling it a foreign-imposed "puppet" regime, has long demanded a complete pullout of all foreign forces from the country.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are now in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counterterrorism operations.

The nine former U.S. ambassadors served under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump. They include James Dobbins, John Negroponte, and Ryan Crocker.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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