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Top US general links pullout to intra-Afghan talks

Top US general links pullout to intra-Afghan talks

Jul 16, 2020 - 19:31


KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok):  Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie has stressed the need for early start of intra-Afghan talks and assurances from the Talibaninfo-icon not to host Daesh and Al Qaeda before greater US troop cut.

During an interview with the VoA, the general linked the US pullout from Afghanistaninfo-icon to the success of the intra-Afghan talks.

He said intra-Afghan dialogues needed to start and the US would need to be confident that the Taliban would not host Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Qaida terrorist groups, potentially allowing them to carry out attacks on the West.

“Right now, it is simply unclear to me that the Taliban has taken any positive steps in that, in those areas,” he told VOA.

The commander, who visited Kabul on Tuesday, said the Taliban had not kept up their commitments agreed to in the US-Taliban peace deal, leading to one of the “most violent” periods of the war in Afghanistan.

“While the Taliban have been scrupulous about not attacking US or coalition forces, in fact the violence against the Afghans is higher than it's been in quite a while,” McKenzie told VOA.

On Tuesday, Pentagon chief spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said Washington was keeping its end of the deal.

“The United States agreed to reduce its forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 and withdraw from five bases. We have met this obligation,” said Hoffman in a statement.

He also reiterated that he had found no information that proved to him that Russia provided bounty offers to the Taliban for killing US troops.

“We are continuing to dig. I have found nothing yet that would make me change my judgment that it is very worrisome, it's very concerning, but it's not proven to my satisfaction that it actually occurred,” McKenzie said, declining to give further details.

Multiple US military commanders have pointed out over the years that Russia has frequently worked to try to counter U.S. efforts in Afghanistan. In 2017, for example, the then-commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson told reporters of continued reports of Russian arming the Taliban to fight the US and its Afghan partners.

McKenzie told VOA the difference between arming and offering bounties is “the human connection.”

“I think that's what it makes it frankly, you know, morally abhorrent, and against, really against, the Western way of war. We would not, so I find it particularly distasteful to even consider that,” he said.



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