Troop Pullout Should Be Tied to Afghan Talks: German FM

Maas said that at the end of April, “these peace talks won’t be over.”

The withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan should be tied to progress in peace negotiations between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban, rather than “slavishly” bound to an end-of-April deadline, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday as quoted by AP.

At the end of April, “these peace talks won’t be over,” Maas said at an event organized by weekly Die Zeit and three other German newspapers. “Our fear is that the Taliban could use this as a reason to leave the peace talks and seek a military solution.”

“So our approach is to say that we must couple both processes, the withdrawal of foreign forces with the peace negotiations,” he said. “We don’t have to hang on slavishly to the date of the end of April — these things must be linked and when the peace negotiations are concluded successfully, the time will have come to withdraw foreign troops.”

Germany is the second-biggest contributor to NATO’s Resolute Support training and assistance mission in Afghanistan, after the United States.

Afghan peace talks

The Taliban have said that an Islamic government will replace the current government in Afghanistan under the incumbent President Ashraf Ghani as a result of peace negotiations.

Citing the US-Taliban peace agreement in Doha on February 29, the Taliban have said that based on the deal, an Islamic government will replace the Ghani govt as a result of the intra-Afghan peace negotiations.

In a press conference following their meeting in the Iranian capital Tehran this week, the Taliban’s delegation said that if the US and NATO forces continue to remain in Afghanistan after May, the Taliban will “deserve the right to defend their country.”

However, the Office of National Security Council (ONSC) has said that it is premature to talk about the political system in Afghanistan.

The ONSC has suggested that the Taliban should stop shedding blood instead of talking about their own government.

“Based on the agreement, (US-Taliban peace agreement), this government will be dissolved and another government will be formed based on the intra-Afghan negotiations, regarding this issue, we have had some trips to the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia,” said Suhail Shaheen, a member of Taliban peace negotiating team.

“Before talking about the system, the Taliban should stop shedding the blood of inhabitants of this country, it is premature to talk about the system,” said Rahmatullah Andar, a spokesman for the ONSC.

Meanwhile, Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council of National Reconciliation has said that the peace negotiation talks between the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban have not entered into an important stage.

What does Iran say about the Taliban?

“This meeting (with Taliban) was shared with the Afghan government—also there were exchanges of views on other topics,” said Saeed Khatibzadeh, a spokesman for the Iranian foreign ministry.

This comes amid rumors about the establishment of an interim government in Afghanistan, which have increased in recent days.

Also on Monday, Mir Rahman Rahmani, the speaker of the Afghan parliament, talked about the prospect of establishing an interim government in Afghanistan, but his statement was met with strong retaliation from Afghan lawmakers.

On Tuesday, a group of people staged demonstrations against the statement by Rahmani, however there is speculation on social media that most of the protestors attended in exchange for money.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani on different occasions has rejected the prospect of the establishment of an interim government and said that he will only transfer the power to his successor through elections and according to the Constitution