Khalilzad urges US to join Taliban to avoid Afghan collapse Taliban news

The former U.S. ambassador said Biden’s “normality” should be followed, he discussed defending the peace deal, blaming Ghani for the failure.

Former US special envoy to Afghanistan Jalam Khalilzad said the Biden administration should engage with the Taliban to help ease the humanitarian crisis that is now looming in the country.

Khalilzad, who negotiated a US withdrawal after ending 20 years of military presence with the Taliban, defended the deal and the Taliban leadership while blaming former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for the failure of peace talks and the fall of Kabul on Wednesday.

Allowing the new Taliban government to fall in Kabul would create a “huge humanitarian crisis” and start migrating millions of Afghans, destabilizing the region and “creating a breeding ground for terrorism,” the former US ambassador warned.

The Taliban want “normal relations” with the United States and the United States wants to reopen its embassy in Kabul, lift sanctions and provide financial assistance, he said.

“We have to sit down with them to agree on a roadmap that takes into account the issue of mistrust or distrust of each other and their behavior (in terms of human rights) that we expect… and in return, specific steps. Which we will take, ”Khalilzad said.

Khalilzad made the remarks in an interview with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington-based think tank focused on geopolitics.

Khalilzad was Washington’s point-man in Kabul negotiating an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. troops, along with peace talks with a Western-backed government. The Taliban ignored the demands of the Western and Afghan governments for a ceasefire and intervened with the Afghan army and police.

The United States and its NATO allies sent thousands of troops to Kabul in a short period of time for a chaotic airlift of more than 120,000 civilians, residents and Afghans supporting their mission. Thousands more were left behind, and news of retaliatory killings by the Taliban has surfaced.

“The Taliban have changed in some ways and the same in other ways,” Khalilzad said. “They were adamant in their agreement not to allow terrorist groups to conspire and plan against the United States.”

He said US “skepticism” towards the Taliban was legitimate but that “opportunities” should be “explored” rather than “paralyzed” for diplomacy.

Khalilzad blamed the “poor performance” of US-backed Afghan forces and criticized former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for saying he could defeat the Taliban militarily without US presence and for failing to comply with the Taliban’s demands for his resignation.

“We are all amazed at President Ghani’s indifference in insisting on staying in power,” Khalilzad said.

He said Ghani’s “great miscalculation was that he did not think we were serious about withdrawing, that we would never withdraw,” he said.

Khalilzad has essentially defended the Taliban leadership’s commitment to the deal with the United States, saying it has fulfilled its promise not to allow safe havens for groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS. The two groups are still in Afghanistan.

The Taliban refrained from killing American soldiers after the withdrawal agreement was signed in February 2020 – a key promise, he said.

A Taliban delegation took part in talks in Moscow on October 20 to form an inclusive government in Kabul. [Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP Photo]

Khalilzad resigned on October 15 from his State Department post as US special envoy for the reunification of Afghanistan. He was criticized for failing to negotiate peace and was replaced by his deputy, Assistant Secretary of State Tom West.

Asked by Carnegie interviewer Aaron David Miller if he had done anything wrong that could change the outcome of events if corrected, Khalilzad said he would “think about it”.

Senior Taliban officials and U.S. representatives held their first private meeting since the withdrawal of U.S. forces and the rise of the Taliban in Doha earlier this month. Khalilzad was not involved in those discussions.

Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister, Mullah Amir Khan Muttaki, said the Taliban delegation’s focus in Doha was on humanitarian aid and lifting the US stalemate over Afghanistan’s central bank’s financial reserves. He added that the United States would provide a vaccine against COVID-19.

So far, officials in the Biden administration have said the United States will maintain financial and economic sanctions on the Taliban as it seeks to provide humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people.

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