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Agencies
November 22, 2020

Abdullah says US troops pulling out too soon

National

A
Agencies
November 22, 2020

KABUL: Afghanistan’s chief peace envoy Abdullah Abdullah said on Saturday that the United States' decision to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan has come too soon, as his country is still struggling to attain peace and security amid an ongoing conflict.

In an interview with a news agency, Abdullah also described as “shocking” an Australian military report that found evidence that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghan prisoners. He welcomed a decision by Australian authorities to pursue the perpetrators.

Abdullah spoke in Ankara where he sought Turkey’s support for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban that are taking place in Qatar to find an end to decades of war. The talks have made little progress so far.

“This is the decision of the US administration and we respect it,” Abdullah said of the US decision this week to reduce troops levels in Afghanistan from more than 4,500 to 2,500. “Our preference would have been that with the conditions improving, this should have taken place.”

Acting US Defence Secretary Christopher Miller announced that Washington would reduce troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan by mid-January, in line with President Donald Trump’s pledge to bring US forces home.

Afghan officials have expressed concerns that a rapid reduction in American troops could strengthen the negotiating hand of the Taliban, while the militants are still waging a full-fledged insurgency against government forces.

“It’s not like things will go as we wish,” Abdullah said, adding, however, that he welcomed the fact 2,500 troops will remain and that Nato will also retain its presence.

The chief negotiator said he was confident that the US will continue to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban during President-elect Joe Biden’s administration.

“What form or what shape it will take that remains to be seen but they will certainly push for a peaceful settlement,” Abdullah said.