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Blinken urges cooperation and unity in letter to Ghani

In a letter to President Ashraf Ghani, of which Ariana News obtained a copy, Blinken said that proposals currently on the table reflect some of the ideas under consideration but “even with the continuation of financial assistance from the United States to your forces after an American military withdrawal, I am concerned that the security situation will worsen and that the Taliban could make rapid territorial gains.”

Blinken also called on Ghani to “positively consider” the proposal that US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will share with him and that the Afghan president works with the Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah, former president Hamid Karzai and Adbul Rasul Sayyaf, an Afghan politician. 

On this note, he said such a “group of four” would present a united front. 

Blinken also stated that Washington intends to ask the United Nations to convene a meeting for Foreign Ministers and envoys from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US to discuss a unified approach to supporting peace in Afghanistan. 

“It is my belief that these countries share an abiding common interest in a stable Afghanistan and must work together if we are to succeed.”

He said Khalilzad has been asked to prepare and share with Ghani and the Taliban leaders written proposals aimed at accelerating discussions on a negotiated settlement and ceasefire. 

However, he pointed out that although Washington has “not yet completed our review of the way ahead, we have reached an initial conclusion that the best way to advance our shared interest is to do all we can to accelerate peace talks and to bring all parties into compliance with their commitments”.

He said the roadmap outlined for the peace process will enable the Republic and the Taliban to develop the foundational principles that will guide Afghanistan’s future constitutional and governing arrangements; a roadmap to a new and inclusive government; and the terms of a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire. 

He said to Ghani: “I urge you to develop constructive positions on these written proposals to discuss with Ambassador Khalilzad.”

Blinken also stated that Washington will ask Turkey to host a senior-level meeting of both sides in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement. 

“I urge you or your authoritative designees to join other representatives of the Islamic Republic in this meeting,” he said to Ghani.

Blinken did however say that Washington shares Ghani’s view that every effort must be made to reduce the violence in Afghanistan. He said these high levels of violence “are exacting an unacceptable toll on the Afghan people and deeply undermining efforts to achieve peace.”

“We have prepared a revised proposal for a 90-day Reduction-in-Violence, which is intended to prevent a Spring Offensive by the Taliban and to coincide with our diplomatic efforts to support a political settlement between the parties.

“I urge you to positively consider the proposal…” he said. 

Blinken went on to state in his letter to Ghani that unity and inclusivity on the Republic’s side was essential for the “difficult work that lies ahead”.

“As you and your countrymen know all too well, disunity on the part of Afghan leaders proved disastrous in the early 1990s and must not be allowed to sabotage the opportunity before us,” he said in reference to the devastating civil war. 

He said to Ghani that his “work together with Chairman Abdullah and your engagements with former President Karzai and professor Sayyaf show promise toward building a more united Afghan front for peace.

“I ask that you work together to further broaden this consultative group of four such that Afghans regard it as inclusive and credible; to build consensus on specific goals and objectives for a negotiation with the Taliban about governance, power-sharing and essential supporting principles; and to agree on overall tactics and public messaging that will demonstrate unity of effort and purpose.”

He then said: “We will strongly support all efforts taken to make this united front work.”

In conclusion, he told Ghani: “I am making this clear to you so that you understand the urgency of my tone regarding the collective work outlined in this letter.”

Transitional government proposed

The letter coincides with the emergence of Washington’s plan for a transitional government – which the Taliban confirmed Sunday. 

In an interview with Ariana News, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem said the plan was being considered by the Taliban’s leadership in Doha and that “a final decision has yet to be made in this regard.”

Naeem stated that the plan includes a transitional government, an Ankara, Turkey summit, and a ceasefire.

The Afghan government has also received US President Joe Biden’s proposed plan for the formation of a transitional government which would include the Taliban.

The plan consists of three key points; a principled guideline for the future of Afghanistan, a transitional government, and a permanent ceasefire.

According to a section of the plan that Ariana News read, a President of Afghanistan would be elected at the end of the transitional government period.

According to the plan, Islam will be considered the official religion of the country, and all Afghan citizens are granted immunity as “Afghanistan is a common home of all ethnicities and religions.”

A transitional government would consist of the following three main cornerstones:

The executive administration, including a president, deputies, ministers, and independent directorates

The legislature, which includes the Senate and Parliament, in which the Taliban will be represented and;

The judiciary, which would also include the Independent High Council of Islamic Jurisprudence and the Commission for Drafting a New Constitution.

According to the plan, the High Council of Islamic Jurisprudence would be composed of 15 members including seven Taliban members, seven members of the Afghan government, and a person would be chosen by the president of the government.

The council would be tasked to prepare Islamic guidance for social and cultural affairs.