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Khalilzad warns Taliban against ‘takeover of Afghanistan by force’

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KABUL: As the Taliban are pushing deep into Afghanistan, U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said that Washington and its allies will never recognize or assist a Taliban government that takes power by force.

US envoy said there was no ultimate military solution for Afghanistan conflict and that there has to be a political settlement for lasting peace in Afghanistan.

With the Taliban taking the intra-Afghan talks for granted and continuing with their onslaught, there are fears that the militant group would take over the country by force disregarding their deal with Washington.

The United States and its allies in the region and beyond will not recognize or assist a Taliban government that takes power by force, said Khalilzad at a press conference on the sidelines of the International Conference on Central and South Asia in Tashkent on Friday.

About Afghan government’s allegation that Pakistan Air Force is supporting the Taliban, Khalilzad did not provide a specific answer but said the Taliban have an agreement not to allow territory they control against the US and its allies by terrorists. “What we are trying to do now is to get the Afghans close agreement and then there will be a consensus regionally and beyond in support of an outcome,” he added.

Afghanistan’s first Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Thursday said that Pakistan is giving air support to the Taliban and has threatened to hit back if Afghan forces try to retake the Spin Boldak border area, where fell to the Taliban late this week.

Moreover, Khalilzad voiced support for Afghanistan government and its peace quest, saying the U.S. is not leaving the country and will remain engaged while supporting the peace process. “America will remain engaged. It will support the peace process and security forces of Afghanistan until peace is achieved.

He reiterated the long-refuted calls by the Taliban to engage in peace talks. He said, “for an agreement that can produce stability, and peace and progress for Afghan people, we need two key features: it has to be broadly accepted by the Afghan people. And it has to have the support and acceptance of the neighbours and donors and other countries around the world.

This comes just as a conference in Tashkent got under way with President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on stage, with presence of Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad.

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