Kabul, Aug 23 (IANS) President Ashraf Ghani has said that withdrawal of part of American forces from Afghanistan as part of a peace deal between the US and the Taliban will not impact the lives of Afghans.
In an interview with TOLO News on Thursday, Ghani said he requested a reduction in the number of American troops in Afghanistan in a letter to US President Donald Trump seven months ago but reiterated that a decrease in number forces will be conditions-based.
“The number of troops has not been mentioned in the bilateral agreement (between Afghanistan and the US) and in multilateral agreement with NATO… Reduction or increase in the number of troops is conditions-based,” he said.
In response to a question that whether 5,000 US troops will leave the country in 135 days from five bases in Afghanistan, Ghani said discussions were ongoing in this regard.
He said the five bases were small and that they will be handed to the Afghan forces.
“Five thousand personnel will not bring basic changes in our lives because the remaining number will support our Air Force, our Commando Force, and other Defence and Security Forces and will help the Resolute Support to continue (its mission in Afghanistan),” Ghani said.
Changing his previous stance on the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan, he said that the country will not fall in six months after withdrawal of foreign forces and added he had brought reforms in Afghan forces which will help them to defend the country against any types of threats.
Ghani said the barrier on the way of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban was the presence of the international forces. He quickly added that the Taliban’s relations with Pakistan, terrorist networks and drug trafficking groups were another issue in this respect.
The Afghan President said his government initiated the peace efforts and the talks between the US and the Taliban.
“The talks between the US and the Taliban would have not been impossible without the initiative of the Afghan government. This includes unconditional talks and ceasefire and convincing of the international community.”
Ghani said that the Taliban are a “platform for international terrorism”.
“Without this platform, terrorists were not able to find a footprint among Afghans,” he added.