The Biden administration has proposed a sweeping, albeit interim, power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and Afghan leaders as the US mulls whether to follow through on former President Donald Trump’s ordered troop withdrawal from the nation.
The agreement was proposed in a three-page letter, initially published Sunday by Afghan news service Tolo News alongside an eight-page plan for an interim government.
In the correspondence, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to consider the options being provided by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, cautioning that President Biden had not committed to undoing the Trump troop withdrawal.
Blinken warned that he “must also make clear to you, Mr. President, that as our policy process continues in Washington, the United States has not ruled out any option.”
“We are considering the full withdrawal of our forces by May 1st, as we consider our other options,” the top US diplomat continued, before issuing a starker warning about the Afghan government’s fate without US backing.
“Even with the continuation of financial assistance from the United States to your forces after an American military withdrawal, I am concerned the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains,” Blinken said.
“I am making this clear to you so that you understand the urgency of my tone regarding the collective work outlined in this letter.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price refused to confirm the draft Sunday, saying only, “It’s often important for our diplomatic efforts that we’re able to conduct them in private.”
Price also said the administration was working to create “a durable peace that must be Afghan-led and Afghan owned.”
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem, meanwhile, confirmed that the organization had received the draft proposal and was reviewing it.
The Biden-backed proposal, if successful, would enact a cease-fire in the war-torn region and call for the protection of the rights of women, children and minorities.
If the Taliban accepts the Biden administration’s offer to come to the table for negotiations, it would give the group more participation in the diplomatic and peace-seeking efforts in the region than at any other time in the last 20 years.
President Donald Trump ordered the full withdrawal of troops from the country after the November election was called for Biden.
Throughout the 2016 and 2020 campaigns, Trump routinely pledged he would stop the “endless wars” in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban after 9/11 and invaded Iraq in 2003 following false claims that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Biden has not made any promises regarding how he’ll handle his predecessor’s decision, rather using it as leverage in negotiations with the Afghan government.
While many favor a complete removal of troops in the region, the country is facing rising instability with a government that essentially operates in tandem with the Taliban at this point.
With Post wires