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US not 'cutting and running' from Afghanistan: Khalilzad

13 Jul 2019 1TV News

2019-07-13 | 2 minute ago

Amid talk of a US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Washington's special envoy has said that America is not "cutting and running" from Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, wno has held seven rounds of talks with Taliban, addressed an audience in Washington on a video link from Qatar.

“We would like to leave a very positive legacy here,” Khalilzad said. “We are not cutting and running. We’re not looking for a withdrawal agreement. We’re looking for a peace agreement. And we’re looking for a long-term relationship and partnership with Afghanistan.”

Khalilzad's talks with Taliban have focused on four key issues: counterterrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan negotiations and ceasefire.

The Taliban has refused to deal directly with the Afghan government, but has attended meetings with other Afghans.

There are also fears that peace talks would affect gains made on women.

Alice Wells, US acting assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asian Affairs, who attended the event at Georgetown University, said no current or future Afghan government should count on international donor support if it “restricts, represses or relegates Afghan women to second-class status.”

Roya Rahmani, Afghanistan’s first female ambassador to the US, expressed hope for peace, but said there’s still no dialogue between the Taliban and the current Afghan government.

She predicted tough periods of negotiation ahead and said whatever deal is made needed to be implemented by a “strong central government.”

Ghizaal Haress, assistant professor of law at the American University of Afghanistan who spoke via Skype from Kabul, said the Taliban must guarantee that the rights of women and minorities, which currently are protected in the Afghan constitution, are preserved.

“If we leave it to broad interpretation or to the broad idea of women’s ‘Islamic values’ then we’re going to be in trouble as we have experienced it” under Taliban rule in the past, she said.

Asila Wardack, a member of the Afghan peace council who attended the conference in Doha, said it appears the Taliban are embracing more modern views of women. Via Skype from Kabul, she said she still worries that they have not changed their hardline ideology and claimed a deeper trust between the parties was needed for the negotiations to be successful.

“They approached us. They didn’t shake hands,” she said. Later, Wardak said two of the Taliban representatives walked up to the women at the conference and said they had heard that a group of “dangerous women” were going to be at the meeting. “They literally used the word ‘dangerous women,’” Wardak said. She said one Taliban member then said: “Please don’t give us a hard time.”

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