Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Mattis Says Some Taliban Factions Might Be Interested In Peace Talks

Mattis Says Some Taliban Factions Might Be Interested In Peace Talks

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrives on an unannounced visit at the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on March 13.

However, Mattis says a diplomatic solution must be between Kabul and the Taliban.

Earlier, talking to reporters before landing in Kabul on a surprised visit, Jim Mattis said that the United States has picked up signs of interest from Taliban elements in exploring the possibility of talks with Kabul to end Afghan war.

The visit is Mattis's second since President Trump announced last August that, despite his instinct to pull USA troops out of Afghanistan, his administration would take a more aggressive approach to the conflict, now in its 17th year.

Mattis said that the United States government under the leadership of President Donald Trump was determined to achieve victory in the Afghan war which happens to be the most protracted war in USA history.

"We've had some groups of Taliban - small groups - who have either started to come over or expressed an interest in talking". "Right now we want the Afghans to lead and to provide the substance of the reconciliation effort", Mattis said. They have so far not responded to Ghani's overture. He said that success would not be realized necessarily on the battlefield but in facilitating reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Thanks to the political process, Gen Mattis said the United States is now looking towards victory in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani recently offered a comprehensive peace deal to the Taliban.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of waging an "undeclared war" against Afghanistan via the Taliban and the Haqqani Network, an allegation that Islamabad denies. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

The Pentagon chief defined the final goal of the conflict as political reconciliation between the warring parties rather than a military victory. The message will hopefully push them towards reconciliation.

There are now 14,000 USA troops in Afghanistan, which is up from the 8,500 around the time President Obama left office.

As part of the so-called South Asia Strategy, Trump a year ago ordered the increased bombing of Taliban targets - including drug-making labs and training camps. So far the group has not made an official comment on the offer. He met immediately with senior officials, including U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass and Army Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the top U.S. officer in Afghanistan. Afghan security forces have been stretched thin as fighting escalated after winter ended, the report said. While he forecast that Afghan forces this year will continue to develop offensive combat power, he predicted the Taliban will "threaten Afghan stability, undermine public confidence by conducting intermittent high-profile attacks in urban areas", increase its influence in rural areas, and threaten district centers. The Taliban last week described the Afghan government as "illegitimate" and its peace process efforts as "deceptive", in a statement calling for a boycott of an Islamic scholars' conference in Jakarta.

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