Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State, has written to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, suggest ways to accelerate the stalled Afghanistan peace process and end the decades-long conflict. America’s top diplomat proposed holding an UN-facilitated conference with foreign ministers of Russia, Pakistan, India, Iran, the US, and China to agree on a unified approach on the way forward.
On Sunday, an Afghan news outlet published the letter. It reported that US Special envoy Zalmy Khalilzad has been asked to share written proposals aimed at accelerating discussions on a negotiated settlement and ceasefire with the Taliban President Ghani. Blinken maintained that all these documents would help the Taliban and the Afghan government to move towards principles that would govern the war-torn country as well as developing terms of a permanent ceasefire between the rival factions.
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The letter further added that in the coming weeks, the US is expected to ask Ankara to hold a high-level meeting between the two sides to finalize the peace pact. Blinken further added that a revised proposal for ninety-day reduction-in-violence has also been prepared by the new US administration, intended to support a political solution and prevent a spring offensive by the Taliban.
Biden’s Secretary of State ended his letter saying that the US has not ruled out any option against the country, including the decision to withdraw all troops by May 1. He wrote, “I am making this clear to you so that you understand the urgency of my tone regarding the collective work outlined in this letter.”
Since last September, when the Afghan government began US-backed talks with the Taliban, the country has seen a significant surge in violence, with western intelligence agencies claiming that the armed group, which already has control of large swaths of land in Afghanistan, have now begun to take ground in cities and towns across the country.
President Biden, who assumed the presidential office on January 20, had announced that his administration would be conducting a full review of its Afghan policy, including the Doha peace deal agreed with the Taliban last year. This comes after President Ghani said on Saturday that he was willing to hold fresh elections to push forward the stalled peace talks. While speaking at the parliament session in Kabul, Ghani described the transfer of power through elections as a “non-negotiable clause.”
Last week, Khalilzad held talks with the incumbent Afghan president and discussed the way to inject fuel into the stalled negotiation with the Taliban being held in Qatar’s capital. Later, he visited Doha. Meanwhile, the western diplomats and Afghan officials maintained that during his visit to the country the US Special envoy had floated the idea of establishing an interim government after bringing the Taliban and Afghan leadership together for talks.
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