Taliban office significant step but long road ahead: US
“Today is an important first step in the peace process,” said a senior Administration official on condition of anonymity, as the Taliban released a statement in Doha stating they opposed the use of Afghan soil that threatened other countries and that they supported the peace process.
“But there is no guarantee that it (peace) would happen quickly. The core of these talks is not going to be US Taliban talks,… but the core of this is going to be direct negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghans. The level of trust on both sides is extremely low as one would expect. It is going to be a long hard process, if indeed it advances significantly,” the official said, adding that this is the beginning of a difficult road.
“I would not be looking for early results,” another administration official noted.
Further recognizing that the opening of the Taliban office in Doha is the first significant milestone towards peace, the United States called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to begin direct negotiations soon. The United States, the official said, would continue to support these critical efforts.
“We welcome them,” another senior administration official said referring to the announcement of the opening of the Taliban political office in Doha to hold peace talks with the Afghan government. At the same time the official said after 30 years if civil war in Afghanistan, they expect this peace process to be complex long and messy, but nonetheless this is an important first step.
However, officials said there is no change in US position on the outcome of the peace process. The outcome of the process, must be the Taliban and other insurgent groups meet three conditions, first they break ties with al Qaeda, they end the violence and accept the Afghanistan constitution, including protection of women and minorities,” the senior administration official said.
Officials, insisted that there has been no change in its core goal in Afghanistan that is to defeat al Qaeda, to ensure that Afghanistan is never again a safe haven for international terrorism. “While the peace process is beginning in earnest today with the opening of the Doha office, our troops continue to serve alongside Afghan troops in Afghanistan,” he said.
The official said in recent months, the Government of Pakistan has been helpful in urging the Taliban to come forward and join the peace process. “I think, Pakistan has been genuinely supportive of the peace process for Afghanistan. There has been in the past skepticism about it support, but in recent months, we have seen evidence that there is genuine support and they employed their influence they have to encourage to engage in this particular format,” the senior administration official said.
“Pakistan leaders have made it clear for several years now that there is no stability in Pakistan, without stability in Afghanistan. So they understand that the security situation in the two countries are linked very tightly. So their support (to the peace process) is very much in keeping their own national interest,” another senior administration official said.
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