“We support a lasting peace and permanent ceasefire”: US Secretary of Defense to Ghani

8 Subh, Kabul: President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani spoke by telephone with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Friday evening. According to the Presidential Palace, the two sides discussed bilateral relations and the recent progress in the Afghan peace process.

Lloyd Austin told President Ghani that his new government supported a lasting peace that would benefit the Afghans, as well as a permanent ceasefire. The Presidential Palace reported that in this telephone call, both sides have expressed concern about the increase in violence and targeted assassinations in Kabul.

In a statement, the Pentagon confirmed that Lloyd Austin had spoken to President Ghani by telephone.

Lloyd Austin also tweeted that he had a good conversation with President Ghani. He said the two sides discussed mutual commitments, a strong partnership between the United States and Afghanistan, and the importance of advancing the peace process.

The statements of the Presidential Palace and the US Department of Defense did not mention the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan. There are currently 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan. According to the agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban, all foreign troops will leave Afghanistan by May.

In recent days, however, it has been reported that foreign troops may not leave Afghanistan as planned because the conditions for a complete withdrawal from the Taliban have not been met.

The severance of ties between the Taliban and al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, as well as the reduction of violence, were among the conditions for the complete withdrawal of foreign forces. The Taliban has been warned of the continuing presence of foreign troops after May.