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US wants Taliban to cut Iran ties: Hekmatyar

KABUL (TOLO News): The US has asked the Taliban to cut its ties with Iran and to agree to the presence of some US forces in Afghanistan after a potential peace agreement between the two sides, said Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the reconciled leader of Hizb-e-Islami, on Tuesday.

Hekmatyar said the US brought these two issues as preconditions for signing a peace agreement with the Taliban, and said the preconditions seem to be the main obstruction in the way of both sides signing the peace deal.

Meanwhile, White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien has said that the US and the Taliban might finalize a peace agreement during the current year.

“We were very close to doing a deal last year, and the Taliban felt that they could increase pressure on the United States by blowing up a bunch of people, including an American, right before some critical end-game talks. This president does not respond to that type of tactic.” Robert O’Brien said in an interview with Axios.

Asked whether he thought Trump would strike a deal with the Taliban before the election, O’Brien said, “I don’t judge things based on when the election’s going to take place, but I think it is possible that there’ll be a deal this year.”

“This has been set as a precondition by America that the Taliban cut their ties with the Taliban, even the Taliban were asked to agree on the presence of some of their forces after the agreement,” said Hekmatyar.

The Taliban officially have not reacted to the statement.

Two different narratives on ceasefire:

The Presidential Palace still insists that the Taliban must agree to a ceasefire agreement before the start of the intra-Afghan talks, but the office of CE Abdullah Abdullah says that it would be sufficient if the Taliban agrees to a reduction of violence before kicking off the intra-Afghan talks.

“If the reduction of violence is based on the standards and mechanisms that are acceptable both to the US and the Afghan government, this will be acceptable to us and the issue of the ceasefire can be addressed in the intra-Afghan talks,” said Mujib Rahimi, a spokesman for the CE Abdullah Abdullah.

Meanwhile, political analysts have said that the US and the Taliban have to show flexibility in order to reach an agreement.

“There is a need for flexibility to be shown–the Taliban must come up with some flexibility, the Taliban need to understand the realities of Afghanistan,” said Hussain Ehsani, a researcher at the Afghan Institute of Strategic Studies.

The Taliban leaders have held internal discussions over the reduction of violence over the past month.

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to meet Afghan leaders in Kabul once the Taliban finalize their position on the reduction of violence.

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