(WASHINGTON) — America’s top envoy to Afghanistan insisted on Tuesday that the U.S. is making no secret deal with the Taliban that would divide up the country.
Rumors have persisted in the Afghan media that in its haste to leave Afghanistan, the U.S. is prepared to either split up Afghanistan or change its form of government as a concession to the Taliban to stop fighting after more than 10 years of war.
While Ambassador Ryan Crocker praised the need for “free and independent media” in Afghanistan, he said that allegations of secret talks with the Taliban, “are, frankly speaking, lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan, governed by its Constitution.”
According to Crocker, the U.S. is, “committed to supporting the efforts of the central government, to build a strong, secure, democratic, and unified Afghanistan,” particularly since American taxpayers have largely footed the bill to achieve that objective.
Crocker maintained that President Hamid Karzai endorsed a plan to open an office for the Taliban in Qatar in order to facilitate peace talks but that it actually won’t happen until the enemy issues a, “clear statement…against international terrorism and in support of a peace process to end the armed conflict in Afghanistan.”
Recently, Vice President Joe Biden made headlines by saying to Newsweek, “The Taliban per se, is not our enemy.” The White House stood behind the statement, despite the fact that the group has ties to Al Qeada and its fighters have been killing American and other Western troops in Afghanistan since troops landed in the country in the days after the 9/11 attacks.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Kevin Liptak, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Arwa Damon, Waffa Munayyer and Bryony Jones, CNN
Steve Visser and Masoud Popalzai, CNN