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The U.S and Taliban on Monday ended the latest negotiations for a peace deal that may include the withdrawal of American troops stationed in Afghanistan. While there has been no agreement yet, President Trump tweeted that the meeting between the two sides was “very good.” Kathy Gannon, senior correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Associated Press, joins Hari Sreenivasan with more.
A bomb went off in Kabul today at a crowded wedding reception. There are reports that dozens of people were killed, there was no immediate claim of responsibility. The blast is the latest of many attacks in the capital city. The U.S. Still has 14,000 troops in the country. Yesterday afternoon at his New Jersey Golf Club, President Trump met with his national security team to discuss ongoing negotiations with the Taliban and the possible withdrawal of U.S. troops. Those peace talks with the Taliban ended last Monday with no deal. Joining me now for more on the 18 year long U.S. war is Kathy Gannon, senior correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Associated Press. Thanks for joining us. Now, how close are we to having an agreement where U.S. troops would be withdrawn?
I think quite close certainly. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. envoy that's negotiating has said that you know they've really made progress and the Taliban have said that they pretty much dotted all the I's and cross the T's and and they're part of a larger agreement. And the negotiations with the Taliban are focused mostly on withdrawal timetable, both of U.S. and NATO troops as well as guarantees from the Taliban that they will work against terrorism, will ensure that Afghanistan is no longer, can no longer, can never be another staging arena for terrorist attacks worldwide, and particularly of course in the United States. I think that's very close. So it's in phases but it's certainly moving toward a final agreement. And certainly the U.S. Has been very clear, both Secretary Pompeo and Khalilzad, they want an agreement by September 1st. Presidential elections are scheduled for the 28th. Several candidates aren't even campaigning because they don't see elections actually occurring because if you have a peace deal, most certainly the Taliban will not sign on to anything that accepts an election so soon after. There's a lot of things that will be part of negotiations. What happens with the militias, that are heavily armed inside Kabul and elsewhere associated with government officials? What happens with the Taliban fighters?
Tell me about the role of women.
Afghanistan is a conservative country. And certainly well it's much better of course, you know they're in school and they're politicians. But certainly the situation is not ideal.
Is Afghanistan ready to take the country back? Meaning, is there a security apparatus that can decrease the crime and the violence? Is there an infrastructure that can improve an economy that isn't doing that great?
It's very difficult. But also you have to remember that the international community has been there 18 years and this situation is worsening in terms of security. Most Afghans, I mean ordinary Afghans not government or whatever, would say but you know 18 years, billions of dollars, I feel more insecure today than I've ever felt. And corruption is still a huge, huge issue in Afghanistan within the government, within the ministries, just even how business is done and highways are difficult to travel– from criminals, from Taliban, from other insurgents, you have the Islamic State that is there as well.
The president wants all 14,000 people out. Is that possible?
I think the agreement that the Taliban will sign onto will demand all leave.It is hard to imagine that they will not leave behind the military personnel and intelligence personnel who can continue to battle the Islamic State to ensure because the main concern for the United States and understandably is that its security is guaranteed. But I'm sure that they won't be there as U.S. military troops. I think the Taliban are very clear they want the 14,000 gone. I think they understand that you know the anti-terrorism guarantees are going to come with oversight.
Kathy Gannon of the Associated Press thanks so much for joining us.
Thank you very much.
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