By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – Afghans must get ready for 'compromises', the top U.S. diplomat in Kabul said Thursday amid ongoing peace talks with the Taliban.
Addressing a ceremony to mark the 243rd U.S. Independence Day, Ambassador John Bass drew parallels between conditions in Afghanistan and America’s Civil War.
“Our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, who led the United States through those dark days, said ‘America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.’ Those wise words of caution have guided the U.S. for over 150 years since the end of our Civil War. I would suggest that Afghans across this country, at this moment in time, should be guided by the same concern. Because as brutal as this war has been, making peace – a lasting peace – will be even harder,” Bass said in prepared remarks.
“Many of Afghanistan’s problems today come from within — from the inability of many Afghans to see your diversity as a strength; to find common ground and purpose supporting the national interest along with one’s community and family; and to be prepared to compromise and work together to benefit all Afghans.”
Bass said Afghanistan has sent “countless heroes to the field” over the past 40 years but has not created enough compromisers to safeguard its republic for the next 40 years, stressing that the U.S. and NATO cannot solve the problems that divide Afghans.
“We cannot – and will not – decide where and how you must be prepared to compromise with the Taliban – and where they must be prepared to compromise with you – to bring this conflict to an end”, he added.
Bass’s remarks come amid a seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the U.S. in Doha.
Meanwhile, an official confirmed Thursday that the Taliban has released 42 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers.
According to the provincial police chief, Abdul Wahed, around 50 soldiers of the ANA were taken captive by the Taliban in the remote Qush Tapa district earlier this week. He said the 42 soldiers were freed Wednesday in the presence of local elders.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid also confirmed in a social media post that 42 troops have been released after guarantees by elders that they will not return to ‘enemy ranks’.
Earlier this week, the local TOLOnews website reported that the insurgents overran Qush Tapa district in Jowzjan, the native province of Vice President Abdul Rahsid Dostum. But the ANA’s 209th Shaheen Corps said in a statement that fighting was still underway, with up to 150 Special Forces deployed to push back the advancing Taliban
Fighting has stepped up across Afghanistan amid the peace talks between the Taliban and U.S. in Doha, Qatar.
Earlier this week, Afghan forces claimed to have killed 151 insurgents in a single day during ongoing counter-terrorism operations.