Accessibility links

Breaking News

U.S. General: Current Conditions 'Don't Merit' Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan


U.S. Central Command head Joseph Votel and Afghanistan security adviser Hamdullah Mohib on February 20

U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Central Command, has said that the current political situation in Afghanistan and the status of negotiations with the Taliban currently under way "don't merit" a troop withdrawal, despite President Donald Trump's goal of a drawdown.

"These decisions have to be based more on conditions than specific times" and must "pivot off political progress," Votel said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington on March 7.

His remarks come as U.S. and Taliban negotiators are holding peace talks in Qatar aimed at ending the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan, America’s longest.

The government in Kabul has been absent from the talks, with the Taliban insisting it will not engage with a Western "puppet.”

Despite Kabul's frustration at being sidelined, Votel said President Ashraf Ghani was being "well informed" and that the "actual initiation of these discussions was done" with his "knowledge and support."

During a previous round of talks in Qatar’s capital, Doha, in January, U.S. and Taliban negotiators said they had reached the "basic framework" of a peace agreement.

U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said on March 5 that the two sides were hammering out the details of four "interconnected issues that are going to compose any future agreement," listing them as "terrorism," "troop withdrawal," "intra-Afghan dialogue," and a "cease-fire."

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters
  • 16x9 Image

    RFE/RL

    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

The Gandhara Briefing

Subscribe here for the week’s best reporting and analysis on Afghanistan and Pakistan by Abubakar Siddique, the editor of RFE/RL’s Gandhara project.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

XS
SM
MD
LG