This is good news for the Quai d’Orsay: the UN Secretary General has decided to rely on French diplomacy to deal with the difficult Afghan issue. Antonio Guterres announced on Wednesday appointing diplomat Jean Arnault as special envoy for Afghanistan and the surrounding region.
Jean Arnault was successively head of the United Nations mission in Colombia (2015-2018) and UN special envoy for Bolivia (2019-2020), but also carried out missions in Afghanistan. The UN chief asked the Frenchman to help find “a political solution to the conflict”, working in close collaboration with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and regional partners. The diplomat’s appointment “reflects the continued commitment of the United Nations to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan,” said UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric.
Biden undecided on withdrawal date
This appointment comes on the eve of the opening of talks in Moscow, which are supposed to breathe new life into the peace process. Russia invited representatives from the United States, Pakistan and China. At the request of the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken, Turkey must also organize in April under the aegis of the UN an international ministerial session bringing together the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Iran. Brussels is not one of the expected guests.
The discussions will probably not be easy. US President Joe Biden will decide whether or not to confirm the total withdrawal by May 1 of US troops still deployed in Afghanistan, in accordance with the agreement signed in February 2020 in Doha with the insurgents. In return, the Taliban had pledged to participate in peace talks with the Afghan government, which began in September in the Qatari capital, but have so far not resulted in any significant progress, amid violence. still raging on the ground.
Joe Biden, however, has already estimated that it would be difficult to withdraw all American troops by May 1. “It can happen, but it’s difficult,” he said in an interview broadcast Wednesday by the American channel ABC. According to him, the agreement reached by Donald Trump “was not negotiated in a very solid way”. The Taliban immediately warned him against any delay. “The Americans should end their occupation in accordance with the Doha agreement and withdraw all of their troops from Afghanistan on May 1,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Wednesday. “If they don’t […] they will be responsible for the consequences, ”he warned.