By Karen DeYoung | Washington Submit

WASHINGTON – Relations between the Trump administration and the federal government of Afghanistan fell to a brand new low this week, as they exchanged public accusations of unhealthy religion and uncovered deep variations over U.S. negotiations with the Taliban.

On a go to to Washington, the Afghan nationwide safety adviser, Hamidullah Mohib, charged that any U.S. cope with the Taliban would “dishonor” American troops who’ve fought and died within the battle. Afghan-born U.S. negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad was appearing out of “private ambition,” Mohib mentioned, and looking for to “create a caretaker authorities, of which he’ll develop into viceroy.”

In Kabul, U.S. Ambassador John Bass mentioned Thursday on Twitter that it was “Afghan corruption and misuse of kit, funds and different assist supplied by the American individuals” that dishonored the troops. “So do any Afghans who put their private or political pursuits forward of the nationwide curiosity,” Bass tweeted.

In a sharply worded assertion, the State Division mentioned Mohib had been “summoned” to a gathering with Undersecretary for Political Affairs David Hale, who reminded him that “assaults on Ambassador Khalilzad are assaults on the Division and solely serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace course of.”

President Donald Trump has mentioned he desires to withdraw all 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, a vow that his high army and civilian aides just lately persuaded him to tie to progress within the Taliban negotiations.

The Afghan authorities has been excluded from talks between Khalilzad and Taliban representatives, who concluded a prolonged fifth spherical of negotiations Tuesday in Qatar. Afghan-to-Afghan talks in regards to the nation’s future ultimately will occur, Khalilzad has mentioned, however the dialogue has targeted up to now on U.S. counterterrorism issues and the Taliban demand for overseas troops to withdraw.

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The U.S.-Afghan relationship has been marked by mutual suspicion and exasperation all through the almost 18 years because the Afghan battle started and U.S. troops arrived and ousted the Taliban authorities. However, aside from a short foray beneath President Barack Obama, successive U.S. administrations have rebuffed repeated Taliban calls for to carry direct talks with Washington, saying they need to be speaking to their very own authorities. The Taliban calls the Kabul authorities a U.S. “puppet.”

Throughout his presidential marketing campaign, Trump described the Afghan battle as a “whole catastrophe” and vowed to deliver residence U.S. forces. As an alternative, a prolonged White Home overview of Afghanistan coverage resulted within the deployment of 5,000 further troops and a dedication to a “conditions-based” withdrawal with no timetable.

By most measures, Taliban management of Afghan territory has elevated since. Final summer season, the administration introduced the appointment of Khalilzad, a former U.S. ambassador to each Afghanistan and Iraq throughout the George W. Bush administration, as Trump’s particular adviser on Afghanistan.

His “singular mission,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned on the time, will probably be “growing the alternatives to get the Afghans and the Taliban to return to a reconciliation.”

Direct U.S. talks with the Taliban started quickly afterward. After the fourth spherical in January, Khalilzad introduced settlement in precept on a draft “framework” for the eventual full withdrawal of U.S. forces, and a Taliban assure that Afghan territory would by no means be utilized by terrorists – together with al-Qaida and the Islamic State.

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Trump indicated every week later, in his State of the Union handle, that there was no date for withdrawal. However “as we make progress in these negotiations,” he mentioned, “we will cut back our troops’ presence and deal with counterterrorism.”

President Ashraf Ghani’s authorities, already furious from what it mentioned was a failure by a “disrespectful” Khalilzad to even present a complete briefing on the talks, hit the roof, putting a lot of the blame on Khalilzad.

“The final individuals to seek out out is us,” Mohib mentioned in a briefing for reporters Thursday. “We get bits and items of data,” he mentioned, charging that Khalilzad’s report back to Ghani after the January talks “was about six minutes.”

“Within the area of data and reconciliation, there is no such thing as a transparency . . . and a hell of a number of pressure,” he mentioned. “We’re advised that Zal,” as Khalilzad is broadly recognized, “is a good diplomat. I’m undecided I purchase that. He’s ostracizing and alienating a really trusted ally. . . . We predict both Zal doesn’t know methods to negotiate, or there are different causes behind” his actions.

Requested what these causes have been, Mohib famous that Khalilzad had twice earlier than expressed curiosity in working for president of Afghanistan and has quite a few associates and contacts amongst Ghani’s political opponents.

Because it directs its ire towards Khalilzad, Ghani’s authorities appeared to be attempting to keep away from blaming Trump.

When Vice President Mike Pence visited Afghanistan 4 days earlier than Christmas, Mohib mentioned, he advised Ghani that Trump was “not trying to withdraw” however was “on the lookout for peace.” Trump flew in 5 days later to go to U.S. troops, however he met with no Afghan officers.

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“Attempt to reassure us,” Mohib mentioned, interesting to the White Home. “Inform us what the president’s coverage is. . . . We’re asking for our sovereign rights,” he mentioned, and “don’t want colonialist approaches.”

Ghani has asserted repeatedly that any credible peace negotiations should embrace Afghan authorities and a cross-section of society, and he has introduced {that a} nationwide jirga, or meeting, on the difficulty will convene subsequent month.

However with presidential elections scheduled for July, Ghani has confronted instability inside his personal administration, in addition to political competitors and in some circumstances violent defiance from longtime partisan and ethnic rivals.

Writing Tuesday on Twitter, on the finish of the latest spherical of talks, Khalilzad declared that “The situations for #peace have improved. It’s clear all sides wish to finish the battle. Regardless of ups and downs, we stored issues on monitor and made actual strides.”


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