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‘New chapter opened’ in Kabul-Washington ties, says Ghani

KABUL (Tolo News): President Ashraf Ghani said that a new chapter has been opened in Kabul and Washington relations and that the United States sees Afghanistan fundamentally as a partner. “A new chapter has been opened in our ties with our main partner the United States and it will continue,” President Ghani said at a cabinet meeting. “Our relations will be at the level of government-to-government.”

Ghani stressed that the United States is reviewing the agreement it signed with the Taliban, and, after a review, the US government will consult Kabul on finding a joint roadmap for the agreement. “A quick review of the US’s deal with the Taliban will be done by the US National Security council and then a fundamental consultation will be done with us,” Ghani said.

The United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday spoke with his Afghan counterpart NSA Hamdullah Mohib regarding the US commitment to the US-Afghan partnership and to peace for “all the people of Afghanistan,” according to a statement by the US National Security Council. Sullivan underscored that the US will “support the peace process with a robust and regional diplomatic effort, which will aim to help the two sides achieve a durable and just political settlement and permanent ceasefire.”

Sullivan also made clear the US’s intention to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement, including to assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan, and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders, the statement said. But a Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told TOLOnews that they remain committed to the agreement and that the group will cooperate if the US means collecting information about the deal by reviewing it.

“We are firm on the commitment we have made in the agreement… And we call on the other side to stay firm on its commitments,” Naeem said. “I think that Mr. Biden will continue the Afghan peace process, but it is far from conceivable to expect that he will prioritize Afghanistan,” said Idris Rahmani, a US-based Afghan analyst.

The Afghan peace negotiations that started on Sept. 12 last year have made progress in their procedural rules. They took a three-month break and resumed their talks on Jan. 6. However, the Afghan Republic and the Taliban’s negotiators have not held any meetings over the last 13 days to discuss the agenda of the talks. President Ghani met with Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, on Sunday evening and discussed the peace process, stressing the need for ceasefire in the country, according to the Presidential Palace. “They expressed their concerns about an increase in violence and stressed the need for ceasefire,” said Dawa Khan Minapal, a presidential spokesman. Experts said that the United States is expected to announce its stance on the Afghan peace process and the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan at the ministerial meeting of the alliance next month.

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