Published: Sat, March 16, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Afghan envoy ‘summoned’ to State Dept over public criticism of Taliban talks

Afghan envoy ‘summoned’ to State Dept over public criticism of Taliban talks

"Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Hale summoned Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib today to reject the public comments attributed to Mr Mohib criticising the USA approach to reconciliation", State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said after the meeting between the two officials.

A senior Afghan official has accused the USA special envoy to his country, Zalmay Khalilzad, of "delegitimizing" the Kabul government by excluding it from peace negotiations with the Taliban and acting like a "viceroy".

Khalilzad informed Gokhale about the issues under discussions with the Taliban and that Washington was insisting on an assurance that territory of Afghanistan will not be used for any terror activities. "He was wanting to run for president twice", Mohib told the Reuters news agency.

The Taliban rejects direct negotiations with the Kabul government, accusing it of being a USA puppet.

"The reason he is delegitimising the Afghan government and weakening it, and at the same time elevating the Taliban can only have one approach".

"Mohib was "summoned" by the USA undersecretary for political affairs, David Hale, who rejected the comments made by the Afghan official "criticising" the U.S. approach to reconciliation", State Department spokesperson Robert Palladino said. On Tuesday, he came straight back to Washington.

Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington, Feb. 8, 2019.

Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington Feb. 8 2019
Jacquelyn Martin AP FILE

Afghanistan has also complained to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Islamabad due to its engagement with the Taliban and attempts to subvert the Afghan peace process.

Zalmay Khalilzad (2nd left) meets with Afghan officials including CEO Abdullah Abdullah (3rd left), President Ashraf Ghani (3rd right), and security adviser Hamdullah Mohib (2nd right) in Kabul in December.

"The Taliban are in no mood to negotiate with the Afghan government, and there is no reason for them to do so".

It is rare that a senior visiting official of another government is summoned by the US State Department in this manner.

The latest round of US-Taliban talks, which lasted for 16 days, ended on Monday in Doha, Qatar.

The Afghan embassy and Mohib did not respond to requests for comment.

Once the "agreement in draft" on a USA withdrawal and terror safe havens is finalized, the USA has said, an "intra-Afghan" peace process will begin - but pressed this week whether the Taliban agreed to that, Palladino said only, "There's no agreement until we have a full agreement". The Taliban has said that they believe the US and President Donald Trump, in particular, want out of Afghanistan and analysts have said they will sign anything to get the Americans to leave.

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