US using Afghanistan as spring pad for activities against China
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US using Afghanistan as spring pad for activities against China

The US special envoy to so-called peace talks with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, said on Monday Taliban militants and Washington have reached an agreement in principle and that the US military would withdraw troops from five bases in Afghanistan if conditions in the deal were addressed by the Taliban. "We have agreed that if the conditions proceed according to the agreement, we will leave within 135 days five bases in which we are present now," Khalilzad told Tolo News on Monday. "Of course, it is not final until the US President (Donald Trump) agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage,” he added. The US agreement with the Taliban could lead to the gradual draw down of all of the almost 14,000 US troops in the country, fulfilling a campaign pledge of Trump.  But last week, he said the United States will keep about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan even if Washington reaches an agreement with the Taliban. James Jatras, a former Senate foreign policy adviser in Washington, told Press TV on Tuesday that any “agreement that would get US forces out of Afghanistan should be welcomed. Let’s remember that President Trump promised that during the campaign and thus far has failed to deliver.” “It’s not clear what has been decided. Here we are talking about the withdrawal of about 5,000 forces I understand. That leaves the question about: ‘What about the other 8,000 forces those are there?’” he said.    “Reportedly the Taliban have agreed that they would fight al-Qaeda and Daesh as part of the agreement. And there’s also a question of what kind of league behind the CIA will have there? In fact there are reports that that’s actually being increased. I can’t imagine that the Taliban would accept that for a long-term,” he noted.   “Let’s keep in mind as well that one of the main reason the United States is still staying in Afghanistan is nothing to do with the Taliban or with so-called fighting terrorism, but rather [using  Afghanistan] as a spring pad for activities against China, especially in Xinyang,” the analyst said.   “So this is a very complicated matter. This is a maybe positive partial initial step. But we have to see where it goes,” he concluded.

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