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30.1.2019 Americans serious about troop pullout, say Taliban
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The Americans appear serious about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, a
longstanding Taliban demand, claims a senior negotiator of the rebel
movement.

Sher Abbas Stanikzai, who led the Taliban at peace negotiations with the
United States in Qatar, said: “I think the US is very serious about
withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.”

In a video message released by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid,
Stanikzai said: “I am hopeful that US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will play a
key role in the Afghan peace process.

“Our jihad has forced the Americans to leave Afghanistan and now they are
pursuing a political option,” the negotiator remarked.

President Ashraf Ghani did not have the power to decide on keeping foreign
troops in Afghanistan or asking them to quit the country, he alleged. “It
is up to the Americans to decide either to leave or to stay in
Afghanistan.”

Stanikzai has been replaced by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as head of
Taliban’s political office in Qatar. Now Baradar, the Taliban’s deputy
chief, will lead the peace talks.

Taliban’s envoys think Khalilzad was more powerful than the previous US
negotiators they had interacted with. 

Given his experience, Stanikzai hoped, Mullah Baradar’s appointment as
head of Taliban’s political bureau would spur the group’s political
activities.

In response to a request from Khalilzad, Baradar was freed by Pakistan in
October to facilitate the peace process. He had been detained in Karachi
in 2010.


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