Published: Thu, March 15, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Mattis in Kabul, says Taliban might be interested in talks

Mattis in Kabul, says Taliban might be interested in talks

But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered talks without preconditions with the Taliban insurgents last month, in what was seen by US officials as a major overture from Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

No one immediately claimed the attack, but a series of assaults by the Taliban in Farah province over the past week have killed at least 38 security forces, while another five were captured and several were wounded.

Arriving unannounced in Kabul today, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis said the United States is picking up signs of interest from Taliban elements in exploring the possibility of talks with the government of Afghanistan in order to end the more than 16-year-old war.

"We have sent more troops and commando forces to Farah to contain the situation", defence ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri told AFP, adding the army chief of staff had also visited the province.

US President Donald Trump has once against highlighted the need for the US military to win the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Farah has been the scene of intense fighting in recent years.

Ghani s peace plan includes eventually recognising the Taliban as a political party. He offered his full support to the Afghan-led reconciliation process, White said, noting that it is aimed at achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

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"The situation will soon come under control", he said.

Over the same period, the watchdog said, the number of districts under Afghan government control or influence fell to its lowest level since December 2015.

Mattis stressed that the military campaign was aimed at driving the insurgents toward a political reconciliation, as opposed to an outright battlefield defeat.

"It s encouraging that these offers are on the table and we would appear to be at a point where they could start having a conversation about this", he said.

In recent months, China has been making efforts to mediate between Pakistan and Afghanistan, two neighbours with a complex relationship as the latter accuses the former of supporting the Taliban.

"Kabul is our main effort right now, to harden Kabul, to protect the people of Kabul and the worldwide community that are here because of the strategic impact that has and the importance to the campaign", he said.

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