US envoy shares deal draft with Afghan Prez

Kabul, September 2 

The US special representative for Afghanistan showed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday the draft of an agreement between the US and the Taliban expected to clear the way for a phased US troop withdrawal, officials said.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born US diplomat who has completed nine rounds of talks with Taliban representatives, is meeting Afghan leaders in Kabul this week to build a consensus before the deal is signed.

“President Ghani and CE Abdullah met Ambassador Khalilzad today. A copy of the draft framework (agreement) was shown to the President,” tweeted Waheed Omer, Director General of the Office of Public and Strategic Affairs of the Presidential Palace. “We will look into the document, and discussions with Khalilzad and team will continue,” Omer said, without providing further details.

The agreement is expected to include a staggered withdrawal of US forces from their longest-ever war in exchange for a Taliban commitment that they will not allow Afghanistan to be used by militants to plot attacks on the US and its allies.

Ghani’s government has been shut out of the talks as the militants refuse to recognise it, dismissing it as a US puppet. But as part of the deal, the Taliban are expected to make a commitment to open power-sharing talks with the US-backed government and work towards a ceasefire.

Ghani will consider the draft and share his views on it with Khalilzad within two days, sources with knowledge of the negotiations said. Khalilzad has said the final agreement was close.

The talks have progressed against a backdrop of relentless violence. The Taliban staged attacks in northern Afghanistan over the weekend, killing members of the Afghan security forces and civilians.  — Agencies