Mullah Mansur was main hurdle to peace talks: US
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The United States said on Sunday Taliban leader Mullah Mansur was not only responsible for killing US and coalition forces in Afghanistan but also was preventing the movement from in participating in peace talks.
“The opportunity to conduct this operation to eliminate the threat that Mansur posed was a distinctive one, and we acted on it,” a US official said, adding he had repeatedly rejected peace talks with the Afghan government.
Even as the Afghan intelligence agency confirmed his death, the US said it was still assessing the results of the air strike. “We're looking into it. At this point it's still a somewhat unfolding situation. We are not prepared to positively confirm that he's been killed,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Fox News.
On a visit to Burma, Secretary of State John Kerry said the strike had been approved by President Barack Obama. It was important for people to understand that Mullah Mansour had been actively involved in planning attacks across Afghanistan, presenting a threat to Afghan civilians and to the coalition forces, he told reporters.
“This is a decision that was made by the president of the United States and it’s one that I wholeheartedly, completely support, and it was done appropriately and in conversation with both parties,” Kerry remarked.
Meanwhile, the US insisted the air strike was legal. “This strike was conducted consistent with all applicable domestic and international law, including the law of armed conflict,” a US official said on condition of anonymity.
The United States took action against Mansour as part of its ongoing armed conflict with Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces, he said, explaining the raid was authorised by the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force.
“Mansur had repeatedly rejected peace talks with the Afghan government, despite our efforts to work with the Government of Afghanistan to encourage the Taliban to prioritize peace,” he claimed.
He explicitly prohibited the Taliban from participating in substantive talks with the Afghan government that could lead to reconciliation between the two sides and an end to the conflict, he continued. “The Taliban publicly and privately rebuffed efforts to advance peace talks through the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.”
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