KABUL, Afghanistan – Restarting stalled negotiations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on a long-term agreement for a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is crucial to maintaining stability in the war-torn country, U.S. Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham said Thursday in an unannounced visit to the capital.
“We need to let the Afghan people know, and the Taliban and Pakistan, that America is not going to abandon Afghanistan,” McCain said.
Karzai suspended work on the agreement in June after the Taliban opened a political office in Qatar in a ceremony that featured signs and a flag that made it clear they viewed the office as an embassy that would help garner international legitimacy.
The office was supposed to have been little more than a venue to allow peace talks to begin among his government, the Taliban and the U.S. government, and Karzai pinned some of the blame on Washington, which took part in negotiations leading to the office’s creation.
Initially, U.S. leaders said they were confident that the discussions over the security agreement would resume soon. After meeting with the senators, though, Karzai said in a statement that the Afghan people had lost faith in the United States in recent months and that talks over the security agreement wouldn’t start again until his negotiators met with the Taliban.