America warns Kabul to consider new peace proposals

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WASHINGTON

America has warned the Afghan president he may face a renewed Taliban spring onslaught without US troops, unless he considers urgent new proposals to try to jump start stalled negotiations.

A full withdrawal of American troops is still being mulled, despite Afghan hopes that Joe Biden’s arrival in the White House would see him halt the pullout, according to a leaked letter from the new secretary of state.

Antony Blinken told Ashraf Ghani that without US troops he was concerned “the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains”. He added that he hoped Mr Ghani would “understand the urgency of my tone.”

The veiled threat came as America touted new proposals for an interim government including the Taliban amid mounting frustration that the year-long Doha process is going nowhere.

Mr Biden is currently reviewing whether to pull out all troops by May 1, as agreed in Donald Trump’s withdrawal deal with the Taliban, or to extend the deployment to give peace talks more time to make progress.

According to the letter, the US is pursuing high-level diplomatic efforts “to move matters more fundamentally and quickly toward a settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire”.

A United Nations-backed conference in Turkey will be held within weeks, assembling envoys from Iran, Pakistan, China and India to endorse a plan.

Any transitional administration would spell the end of Mr Ghani’s rule and the dismissal of an internationally-recognised government.

Mr Ghani’s vice president, Amrullah Saleh, said on Monday that the country would “never accept a ‘bossy’ and imposed peace.

”Roland Kobia, the EU envoy to Afghanistan, also appeared to question the US approach, saying Afghanistan had its own constitution, elections and agreements.

“[Afghanistan] has the support of the vast majority of the international community and the world in UN security council, and Geneva has committed to protect its achievements republic.”

Violence in Afghanistan has increased recently as peace talks between the Taliban and the government has made no progress.

Both sides have said they were getting ready for a “tough” spring offensive.— The Telegraph