U.S. Asks Taliban to Spare Its Kabul Embassy in Coming Fight for Capital
Khalilzad hopes to convince Taliban leaders that the embassy must remain open and secure if the group is to receive US financial aid and other aid under a future Afghan government. Taliban leaders have said they want to be seen as a legitimate steward of the country and seek to establish relations with other world powers, including Russia and China, in part to receive economic support.
Two officials confirmed Mr Khalilzad’s efforts, which were not previously reported, on condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate negotiations. A third official said on Thursday that the Taliban would lose all legitimacy – and, in turn, foreign aid – if they attacked Kabul or took control of the Afghan government by force.
Other governments are also warning the Taliban that they will not receive aid if they take precedence over the Afghan government, given the rampage of its fighters across the country in recent days. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday that Berlin would not provide any financial support to the Taliban if they ultimately rule Afghanistan with uncompromising Islamic law.
In other publications around the world, US diplomats have said they are closely monitoring the perilous situation in Kabul to see how the State Department balances its long-standing commitment to stabilize Afghanistan and protect Americans who remain there while the military forces withdraw.
Ronald E. Neumann, who was the US ambassador to Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, described a push and pull between the Pentagon and the State Department in similar situations, given the military’s responsibility to carry out evacuations and the duty of diplomats to maintain US aid and influence even in dangerous areas.
“If the military leaves too early, it may be unnecessary, and it can cost you dearly politically,” said Mr. Neumann, who is now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy in Washington. “If diplomats wait too late, it looks like Saigon from the rooftop or leaving Mogadishu when all was already lost, and that puts the military at risk. There is therefore no guaranteed right side.
Another senior US official this week expressed alarm at the fall of provincial capitals across Afghanistan, and said if other cities followed, especially Mazar-i-Sharif, the only major city in the north still under government control, the situation could disintegrate quickly.
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