The Biden administration has apparently extended a power-sharing deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan in one of the most recent efforts to bring America’s longest-running war to and end, though it may come at a steep cost.

Defense Secretary Antony Blinken has urged both Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to come together and attempt to work out a peace deal that could potentially end the conflict in the Middle Eastern country, according to the Daily Mail.

Blinken’s first proposal was to offer a cease-fire with the Taliban moving out of Pakistan, a so-called caretaker “peace government,” and the ultimate election of a single national government. He also requested that both sides travel to Turkey to begin talks “within the coming weeks” and noted a full withdrawal of troops set for May 1 is still very much on the table.

The Biden administration’s position was laid out in a three-page letter and eight-page peace proposal sent by Blinken himself—all of which was leaked to Afghanistan’s TOLO News over the week. The information was originally obtained by the Associated Press on Monday.

Though the offer had been extended, there was no immediate comment from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the draft proposal.

In recent speeches, Ghani has noted that there would be no interim government formed “as long as I am alive.” However, Blinken was unflinching in the letter, asserting that this would be the path to a peace deal.

“I am making this clear to you so that you understand the urgency of my tone regarding collective work,” he wrote. Blinken said in the letter that a May 1 deadline for a final withdrawal of U.S. troops is still available—stipulated in a Taliban-U.S. deal last year.

The issue is that the U.S.’s $4 billion aid to Afghanistan’s National Security Forces could signal a huge territorial gain for the Taliban. Ghani’s first vice president, Armrullah Saleh, said that the president received the letter and was unmoved by its contents.

He went on to say that Ghani is not prepared to embrace the secretary of state’s accelerated pace toward a settlement.

“We are neither concerned about the letter nor has it changed our position,” Saleh said. He did thank the U.S. for its sacrifices and financial assistance over the past 20 years but stated that the Afghan government will not succumb to dictation.

“We will make peace with dignity, but never… an imposed peace,” he said at a ceremony on the anniversary of the death of a former defense minister, according to the Mail.

Ghani has also been accused by his political opponents of attempting to cling to power, refusing to meet others halfway.

Blinken’s letter offers a revised plan for a 90-day reduction in violence that would evade the start of a spring offensive by the Taliban and would also be followed by a permanent cease-fire laid out in the draft peace agreement.

Both sides would reportedly stop fighting within hours of the agreement being signed, according to the draft, and the Taliban would also remove its military structures from neighboring countries, referring to Pakistan.

The agreement states: “It sets forth principles for governance, security, and rule of law and presents options for power sharing that could help the two sides reach a political settlement that ends the war.”


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