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Hamid Karzai for Valdai: No Full US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Should Be Expected Soon

The best solution for Afghanistan is to reach a negotiated political settlement with the support of regional countries and international partners: an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved and that ensures a responsible withdrawal of foreign forces, former Afghan president believes.

Full withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan is undesirable, as it will not benefit the nation itself, its neighbours, or the United States, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai told valdaiclub.com in an exclusive interview.

“For us, the best solution is to reach a negotiated political settlement with the support of regional countries and international partners: an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved and that ensures a responsible withdrawal of foreign forces,” Karzai said. “‌But if the US decides to leave without a deal, it has to be in full harmony with the people of Afghanistan and the countries of the region, notably Russia and China. The region will have to play an active role preventing any adverse consequences.”

US forces have been present in Afghanistan since 2001. Troop levels peaked under President Obama reaching 100,000 by August 2010, but were reduced to about 8,400 by the end of his second term. His successor Donald Trump, warning against a “hasty withdrawal,” brought this number to about 14,000. In October, commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan Gen. Austin Miller said the troop strength had been reduced to 13,000 over the past year, despite the failure of peace talks with the Taliban.

Karzai praised Russia’s efforts to support the stabilization of Afghanistan. “Russia has already demonstrated its interest for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan by holding the 2018 and 2019 hallmark intra-Afghan dialogues meeting in Moscow which considerably advanced the cause of peace,” he said.

It is noteworthy that the most recent intra-Afghan meeting in Moscow featured a delegation of the Taliban, a development seen by observers as a sign of Russia’s pragmatic realism. Moscow has repeatedly said that achieving peace in Afghanistan is possible only with the involvement of all major political forces in the country.

“Russia should be ready to get engaged more actively in Afghanistan and the region to prevent further chaos and help bring security and stability,” Karzai highlighted.

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