The US negotiator on Afghanistan has said that former President Ashraf Ghanis abrupt exit scuttled a deal for the Taliban to hold off entering Kabul and negotiate a political transition, The Guardian reported.
In his first interview since the collapse of the 20-year western-backed government, Zalmay Khalilzad, who brokered a 2020 deal with the Taliban to withdraw US troops, told the Financial Times that the insurgents had agreed to stay outside the capital for two weeks and shape a future government.
“Even at the end we had an agreement with the Talibs for (them) not to enter Kabul,” he said.
But Ghani fled on August 15 and the Taliban, in a previously arranged meeting that day with US Gen Frank McKenzie, chief of central command, asked if US troops would ensure security for Kabul as government authority crumbled, the report added.
“And then you know what happened, we weren’t going to take responsibility,” Khalilzad said.
President Joe Biden had insisted that US troops would only work to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies, and not extend Washington’s longest war.
Asked about Khalilzad’s remarks, state department spokesman Ned Price said it was not an option to stay “a moment longer” in Kabul.