Leader rejects foreign interference as talks advance
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP):
Afghanistan’s president yesterday rejected foreign interference as the United States (US) and the Taliban appear to be closing in on a peace deal without the Afghan government at the table.
President Ashraf Ghani spoke during the Muslim holiday of Eid-al-Adha and as US and Taliban negotiators continue their work in the Gulf nation of Qatar, where the insurgents have a political office.
Speaking after the Eid prayers, Ghani insisted that next month’s presidential election is essential so that Afghanistan’s leader will have a powerful mandate to decide the country’s future after years of war.
“Our future cannot be decided outside, whether in the capital cities of our friends, nemeses or neighbours. The fate of Afghanistan will be decided here in this homeland,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to intervene in our affairs.”
US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is seeking a peace deal by September 1, weeks before the vote. The two sides are expected to agree on the withdrawal of some 20,000 US and NATO troops in return for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would not be a base for other extremist groups.