The US and Afghanistan are publicly beefing over peace talks with the Taliban

news
U.S. troops walk from a Chinook helicopter in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan July 7, 2017. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani)

The United States and Afghanistan clashed publicly on Thursday over U.S. peace talks with the Taliban, with a visiting Afghan official accusing the chief U.S. negotiator of "delegitimizing" the Kabul government by excluding it from the deliberations.


The remarks by Hamdullah Mohib, a former ambassador to Washington who serves as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national security adviser, drew a blistering rebuke from the State Department, which said they impeded U.S.-Afghan ties and the peace process.

The feud thrust into the open tensions that have been building between the allies over U.S. efforts to forge a peace pact with the Taliban paving the way for a U.S. troop withdrawal that Kabul fears could weaken its own negotiating position.

Mohib leveled a fierce attack on U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad's conduct of the talks during a news conference at the Afghan embassy, accusing the Afghan-born veteran U.S. diplomat of a lack of transparency.

"Knowing Ambassador Khalilzad's history, his own personal history, he has ambitions in Afghanistan. He was wanting to run for president twice," said Mohib. "The perception in Afghanistan and people in government think that perhaps, perhaps all this talk is to create a caretaker government of which he will then become the viceroy."

Viceroy is a politically loaded term in South Asia as it was the title of the colonial administrator of British-ruled India.

Afghanistan National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib shakes hands with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi before their meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing, China January 10, 2019 (Reuters/Andy Wong)

Mohib's comments were the most strident public complaints to date by an Afghan official over the Kabul's government's exclusion from the negotiations.

A second round of U.S.-Taliban talks lasting 16 days ended on Monday in Doha, Qatar. The sides reported progress, but no final deal on a withdrawal of U.S.-led international forces and arrangements that the Taliban ensures militants would not use Afghanistan to stage attacks as al Qaeda did for Sept. 11, 2001.

"We think either Zal, Ambassador Khalilzad, doesn't know how to negotiate (or) there may be other reasons behind what he's doing," Mohib said.

"The reason he is delegitimizing the Afghan government and weakening it, and at the same time elevating the Taliban can only have one approach. It's definitely not for peace," he said.

His remarks drew a strong admonition from Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale. In a meeting with Mohib, Hale rejected his attack on "the U.S. approach to reconciliation," Robert Palladino, the department's deputy spokesman, said in a statement.

The department's No. 3 diplomat reminded Mohib that Khalilzad represents Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "and that attacks on Ambassador Khalilzad are attacks on the department and only serve to hinder the bilateral relationship and the peace process," Palladino said.

Hale "expressed our commitment to the Afghan government's stability and full participation in the peace process," Palladino said.

U.S. negotiators are pressing the Taliban to accept a ceasefire and talks on Afghanistan's political future with representatives of Afghan society, including Ghani's government. But the talks have primarily focused on the Taliban's counter-terrorism assurances and a U.S. troop withdrawal.

The Taliban rejects direct negotiations with the Kabul government, accusing it of being a U.S. puppet.

The lead Taliban negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, on Thursday assured Afghans that they had no reason to fear a settlement.

Afghan officials worry that Khalilzad's priority is securing at Kabul's expense an end to the nearly 18-year U.S. military involvement to fulfill a pledge President Donald Trump made to end America's longest war.

SEE ALSO: Taliban Launch Brazen Attack On Afghan Base Housing Us Military Advisers Amid Peace Talks

WATCH NEXT: Operation Enduring Freedom Turns 17

President Donald Trump speaks during an event with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Pratt Industries, Sunday, Sept 22, 2019, in Wapakoneta, Ohio. (Associated Press/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he discussed Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden and his son in a call with Ukraine's president.

Trump's statement to reporters about his July 25 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky came as the Democratic leader of a key congressional panel said the pursuit of Trump's impeachment may be the "only remedy" to the situation.

Read More Show Less
"It's kind of like the equivalent of dropping a soda can into canyon and putting on a blindfold and going and finding it, because you can't just look down and see it," diver Jeff Goodreau said of finding the wreck.

The USS Eagle 56 was only five miles off the coast of Maine when it exploded.

The World War I-era patrol boat split in half, then slipped beneath the surface of the North Atlantic. The Eagle 56 had been carrying a crew of 62. Rescuers pulled 13 survivors from the water that day. It was April 23, 1945, just two weeks before the surrender of Nazi Germany.

The U.S. Navy classified the disaster as an accident, attributing the sinking to a blast in the boiler room. In 2001, that ruling was changed to reflect the sinking as a deliberate act of war, perpetuated by German submarine U-853, a u-boat belonging to Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.

Still, despite the Navy's effort to clarify the circumstances surrounding the sinking, the Eagle 56 lingered as a mystery. The ship had sunk relatively close to shore, but efforts to locate the wreck were futile for decades. No one could find the Eagle 56, a small patrol ship that had come so close to making it back home.

Then, a group of friends and amateur divers decided to try to find the wreck in 2014. After years of fruitless dives and intensive research, New England-based Nomad Exploration Team successfully located the Eagle 56 in June 2018.

Business Insider spoke to two crew members — meat truck driver Jeff Goodreau and Massachusetts Department of Corrections officer Donald Ferrara — about their discovery.

Read More Show Less
(CIA photo)

Before the 5th Special Forces Group's Operational Detachment Alpha 595, before 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment's MH-47E Chinooks, and before the Air Force combat controllers, there were a handful of CIA officers and a buttload of cash.

Read More Show Less

The last time the world saw Marine veteran Austin Tice, he had been taken prisoner by armed men. It was unclear whether his captors were jihadists or allies of Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad who were disguised as Islamic radicals.

Blindfolded and nearly out of breath, Tice spoke in Arabic before breaking into English:"Oh Jesus. Oh Jesus."

That was from a video posted on YouTube on Sept. 26, 2012, several weeks after Tice went missing near Damascus, Syria, while working as a freelance journalist for McClatchy and the Washington Post.

Now that Tice has been held in captivity for more than seven years, reporters who have regular access to President Donald Trump need to start asking him how he is going to bring Tice home.

Read More Show Less

"Shoots like a carbine, holsters like a pistol." That's the pitch behind the new Flux Defense system designed to transform the Army's brand new sidearm into a personal defense weapon.

Read More Show Less