Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, December 3rd, 2020

Afghan Leaders Congratulate Biden, Expect More Focus on Peace

Afghan Leaders Congratulate Biden, Expect More Focus on Peace

KABUL - President Ghani congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden and US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on wining the United States election and said Afghanistan looks forward to continuing and deepening its multilayered strategic partnership with the US as a foundational partner for the country, including in counterterrorism and bringing peace to Afghanistan.
Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, also congratulated Biden for his “momentous win, and also the American people for their historic election turnout.”
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai congratulated Biden and Harris and said, “President-elect Joe Biden called for unity and healing, the right call for a noble cause.”
“We need the same in Afghanistan in a much deeper and more profound way,” Karzai said. “We hope his administration’s policy and relations with Afghanistan will focus entirely on bringing peace and stability.”
On Saturday, the Afghan government said the strategic partnership between the United States and Afghanistan is based on mutual interests and that there will be no major shift in the US’s Afghan policy after outcome of the US election.
“The foundation of our partnership over the past nineteen years has always been based on the understanding that the two governments and the people have on their common interests. No doubt, we will remain as an ally whether there is any administration in the United States,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.
There is a perception in Afghanistan that Joe Biden’s victory in the US election will bring changes in the US policy towards the Afghan peace process and the withdrawal of US forces from the country.
Critics said the continuation of the US war in Afghanistan is one of the main commonalities that has led to a consensus among the American politicians on war and peace in the region. The critics said that it remains unclear whether there will really be a significant shift in the US policy towards Afghanistan after the announcement of the winner of the US presidential election.
US and Taliban agreement
Following eighteen months of negotiations in Doha, the US and the Taliban officially signed a peace deal on February 29 this year that pave the way for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in exchange for a number of solid assurances by the Taliban to the US and its allies.
The agreement states that the US will fully withdraw its forces over the next 14 months, and that the current force of about 13,000 troops will be reduced to 8,600 within 135 days. Non-US NATO and other coalition forces will also be reduced proportionally over that time.
The agreement was also urged the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners, Intra Afghan talks, and Taliban will cut its relation with Al-Qaeda.
The Afghan government has released 5,600 Taliban prisoners as part of conditions ahead of the peace negotiations.
The negotiators from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban are in Doha where they are trying to bridge gaps on some contested topics and procedural rules intended for the formal talks.
The two sides have held over 10 meetings at the contact groups level over the last nearly two months, but have not reached an agreement on the disputed points to begin the direct talks, which have been called a historic opportunity for Afghanistan to end the decades of war and bloodshed.  
The two sides have agreed on 18 out of 20 articles for the procedural rules, but two main articles—the religious basis for the talks and connection of the US-Taliban deal with the negotiations—remain unsolved.
The peace negotiations between teams from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban started on September 12.
US troops will pull-out by end of this year
On October 22, Trump told his supporters at an election rally in Gastonia, North Carolina that "19 years in Afghanistan is enough."
Earlier this month he tweeted that all the troops should be home from Afghanistan by Christmas.
“We never had anything like it -- and sacrificing American blood and treasure in endless foreign wars in countries that you’ve never even heard of. And they’re all coming back. You know that, right? I hope nobody objects, “Trump said as quoted by India’s the Hindu.
Last month, Trump said that the US will reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan to 4,000 in a very short period of time.
After Trump’s remake, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaking at a pre-ministerial press conference in Brussels said that all NATO members support the US-Taliban agreement and current Doha talks, but the Taliban must live up to its commitments. 
NATO has around 12,000 troops in the alliance’s biggest mission, said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
(TOLO NEWS)