Kabul eyes US troops’ presence until Taliban fully observe truce

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Kabul

Afghanistan’s government on Monday demanded a complete withdrawal of US-led foreign troops from the country but only after the Taliban “cut ties with terrorists” and announced a ceasefire.

“Responsible pullout has been our demand and that of all of our international allies,” Dawa Khan Menapal, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, told Arab News on Monday.

“It means that all the threats have finished, the Taliban has cut ties with all terrorists, the violence has been halted and a ceasefire has been announced. This is responsible withdrawal,” he added.

Menapal’s remarks follow a surprise visit by US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Afghanistan on Sunday, in which the Pentagon chief met with Ghani and pushed for a “responsible end” to Washington’s longest war in history.

Austin said that the level of violence must decrease for “fruitful” diplomacy to succeed.

Menapal agreed, adding that the world and Kabul “faced a joint threat” and needed “a joint assessment” because the Taliban “had not severed ties with terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda.”

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, reiterated that Washington needed to honour the deadline.

“They have signed an agreement with us, and the date there is clear,” Mujahid told Arab News by phone.