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US to cut $1bn in Afghan aid as feuding leaders reject push for power-sharing

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KABUL:  The Trump administration is slashing $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan with threatening further reduction in all forms of cooperation after the two feuding Afghan leaders, (President Ashraf Ghani, and self-proclaimed President Abdullah Abdullah) rejected to form a new inclusive government.

“The United States is proud of our partnership with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Afghan people, and admires what Afghanistan has achieved since 2001. We have forged a deep bond, especially with Afghan security forces, through shared sacrifice in responding to threats to international peace and security since 2001. Underscoring the national priority the United States attaches to helping bring about a political settlement to forty years of devastating war, Secretary Pompeo came to Kabul today with an urgent message. He spoke directly to the nation’s leaders to impress upon them the need to compromise for the sake of the Afghan people,” U.S. Department of Statement said in a statement.

The United States deeply regrets that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed Secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens, the statement added.

The United States is disappointed in them and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed U.S.-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country, the statement said.

According to the statement, “Bessie this leadership failure poses a direct threat to U.S. national interests, effective immediately, the U.S. government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan. Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021. We will also initiate a review of all of our programs and projects to identify additional reductions, and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan. We have made clear to the leadership that we will not back security operations that are politically motivated, nor support political leaders who order such operations or those who advocate for or support parallel government.”

The United States remains convinced that a political settlement is the only solution to the conflict, the statement said, adding, “We note that Afghan leaders are acting inconsistently with their commitments under the Joint Declaration, chiefly failing to establish an inclusive national team to participate in intra-Afghan negotiations or take practical steps to facilitate prisoner releases by both sides as a confidence-building measure to reach a political settlement and achieve a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. We are proceeding with the conditions-based withdrawal of our forces in accordance with the U.S.-Taliban agreement.”

“Should Afghan leaders choose to form an inclusive government that can provide security and participate in the peace process, the United States is prepared to support these efforts and revisit the reviews initiated today.”

The United States is not abandoning our partnership with Afghanistan, nor our commitment to support the Afghan security forces, but reviewing the scope of our cooperation given the irresponsible actions of Afghan leaders. “To illustrate America’s steadfast commitment to the Afghan people, the United States will be providing $15 million in assistance to help combat the spread of the coronavirus in Afghanistan.”

Furthermore, President Ashraf Ghani, addressing to the Nation, said that reduction in US aid will not have a direct impact on key sectors in Afghanistan.

“Right now, I can assure you that reduction in US assistance will not have a direct impact on our key sectors and we will try to fill the gap by searching for alternative ways,” Ghani said.

In a separate statement, Abdullah Abdullah, the main rival of Ashraf Ghani, thanked Pompeo for his effort that created an opportunity to resolve the current political crisis. “Unfortunately, this important trip has not properly utilized.” Abdullah emphasized that he still “believe in negotiations” as the only remedy to resolve the political crisis.

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