US Envoy Says US Not Seeking ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ in Afghanistan

Insists US goal is 'comprehensive peace agreement'

Following claims earlier this week from the Taliban that the US had effectively agreed to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the US negotiator, issued a statement insisting that the US was seeking “a comprehensive peace agreement, not a withdrawal agreement.

This comes after Pentagon officials already dismissed the Taliban’s statement, but it’s not clear that what Khalilzad said is really meant as a denial so much as an attempt to rebrand what is effectively the same deal.

All talk of the deal has had the US agreeing to withdraw from Afghanistan in return for the Taliban keeping al-Qaeda and ISIS out of the country. This has been known for months now, and if not finalized yet, it’s certainly the framework everything is built around.

Though some US officials are very keen to retain an “enduring presence” in Afghanistan going forward, that appears to be the one non-negotiable matter for the Taliban. Getting the US out of the country is their main goal, and has been since the 2001 invasion.

A US deal was always going to have to include this withdrawal agreement, whether they like it or not, and to the extent that talks continue, it underscores that the US hasn’t merely walked away from the one key demand.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.