According to Reuters, an extension of diplomatic negotiations between Secretary of State John Kerry and the Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is due to take place, after the two parties were unable to reach an agreement over a number of contentious topics.
Nonetheless, both sides remain willing to cooperate in seeking an accord. Kerry had this to say to journalists and United States embassy employees:
“We will try to see if we can make a little more progress, which we have been doing.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for President Karzai informed reporters that a third session of talks was due to take place, in which their administration hoped to finalize outstanding issues.
Both parties had already agreed, during preliminary discussions, that the United States would be permitted to conduct counter-terrorism missions within Afghanistan. However, talks then shifted, with the Afghan administration requesting protection from foreign forces. According to an Afghan official, the U.S. was unable to grant this condition, as it could potentially entail taking action against one of America’s key allies, Pakistan.
The U.S. is currently contemplating a protocol called “zero option,” which could see all of its forces withdrawn from the war-torn country by the closing of 2014. Officials fear that, with Afghan security flagging, the extraction of U.S. troops could have dire consequences.
Attempts to engage the Taliban in peaceful negotiations have, thus far, failed; the Taliban allege that Karzai is merely an American-controlled puppet.
By: James Fenner