US Defense Secretary postpones visit to India and Pakistan due to Corona virus
Washington: US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has cancelled an important visit to Pakistan, India and other countries in the region amid concerns over the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
Accordingly, Mark Esper intended to visit the region from March 16 to March 20 to discuss the Afghan peace process.
He was expected to arrive in Islamabad on March 19, where he would stay overnight.
Other places during his visit included Uzbekistan and possibly Kabul, but the visit to the Afghan capital was not announced for security reasons.
"After receiving several warnings, the Secretary of Defense has decided to cancel his trip and the visit will be made later," said Pentagon spokesman Alyssa Farah.
The deadly virus that came out of China in December has infected 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,000 people so far.
The outbreak has prompted Washington to review all of its foreign visits so that its officials are not affected by the virus.
Mark Esper's suspension visit was directly linked to the peace agreement that Pakistan helped to finalize, and Washington wants Islamabad to help implement it as well.
Interfaith talks in Doha were to be held from March 10, with the participation of other factions, including the Taliban and the Afghan government, but negotiations have been suspended due to the complicated political situation in Afghanistan.
Another key point of the US-Taliban deal was the exchange of prisoners, which was suspended, however soon it could be.
Initially, the Afghan government refused to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, but Afghan President Ashraf Ghani indicated on Monday that he wanted to do so.
Taliban leaders have already agreed to release 1,000 prisoners to them.
Policymakers in Washington feel that Pakistan can influence the Taliban's implementation of their commitments and they want Islamabad to do so while creating a favourable situation for the US and its allies in the inter-Afghan dialogue.
Meanwhile, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who also negotiated a peace deal with the Taliban, has now been given the task of stopping the political conflict in Kabul.
Two presidents, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah were seen swearing-in at the ceremony on Monday.
Both claim legal rule and refuse to accept each other.
During the swearing-in ceremony of Ashraf Ghani, several rockets fell outside the Presidential Department, causing temporary disruption to the ceremony.
Taliban spokesman said they were not involved in the attack.
Where suspect Abdullah Abdullah's supporters began to move towards Lucky, US Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad called for no further tension.
"I spent most of last week between President Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdullah to help in a broadly accepted government agreement, and we provide further support," he said on the social networking site. Will remain. '
Washington fears that this political conflict will become a form of violence, which may delay the US's withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Zalmay Khalilzad said that "the two leaders made it clear that they are ready to negotiate to end the political crisis and peace and reconciliation are the priority.