World

Defense Secretary Mattis in Kabul, Says Elements of Taliban Open to Talks

Defense Secretary Mattis in Kabul, Says Elements of Taliban Open to Talks

Elements of the Taliban are open to talks with the Afghan government, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday as he arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit.

Before landing, Mattis told reporters that the usa had picked up signs of readiness from some groups of Taliban insurgents to enter into possible peace talks with the government in Kabul. Mattis noted some positive indications from Islamabad, including Pakistani military operations along the border.

"All wars come to an end", Mattis said, The Washington Post reported.

General Mattis' visit to the war-torn city comes two weeks after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unveiled a plan to open peace talks with the Taleban.

Ghani proposed talks with no preconditions with the Taliban last month, in what the Reuters news agency says "was seen by US officials as a major overture from Kabul".

The insurgents have, so far, given no formal response to Kabul's offer of talks, but Gen Mattis said some insurgent leaders have expressed an interest in the discussions. "The victory will be a political reconciliation".

However, the insurgents, who seized a district center in western Afghanistan this week, have given no public sign of accepting Ghani's offer, instead issuing several statements suggesting they meant to keep fighting.

The U.S. Defense chief says the Taliban is coming closer to taking part in peace talks. But he said it was still too much to expect the whole Taliban to do so.

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United States intelligence officials are predicting the war will remain stalemated as the traditionally most intensive fighting season begins this spring.

He also says Pakistan is changing its behavior after President Trump blasted the country for harboring terrorists past year.

These and other moves boosted the number of USA troops in Afghanistan by at least 3,500 to a total of more than 14,000.

"We want the Afghans to lead and to provide the substance to the reconciliation effort", Mattis stated. Put another way - the aim is to convince the insurgents they can not win on the battlefield, thus driving them to reconcile with the Afghan government.

For the first time, reporters were asked to withhold publishing their stories until arrival at the US coalition headquarters in Kabul-a security concern dictated by the rocket attack against the Kabul airport a few hours after Mattis visited in September.

"Uzbekistan is set to host an Afghan peace conference this month, where participants are expected to call for direct talks between the militant group and Ghani's government".

The group has said it is prepared to negotiate, but only with the United States and not with the Kabul government. 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.


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