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For now, no direct talks with Taliban: US

For now, no direct talks with Taliban: US

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Mar 06, 2018 - 10:55

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Insisting that the peace process has to be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led, the Trump administration on Monday ruled out direct talks with the Talibaninfo-icon.

The first phase of talks has to be between the Afghan government and the Taliban without any precondition, the principal deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia said.

Alice Wells told a news conference yesterday that after the first phase, other international stakeholders, including the United States, would join in the negotiations.

“No one is precluding any formula, but I think what first has to happen is there has to be agreement between the Taliban and the government of Afghanistaninfo-icon to engage with one another.

“This does not confer recognition of one another. This is a negotiating process between the Afghan government and the political movement of the Taliban,” she explained.

“After that, I would expect that there are many regional partners who have a stake in and an interest in supporting a peace process, as was the case in the bond process that ushered in the post-Taliban government.”

She believed there would be broad international support for peace negotiation, and the kind of diplomatic architecture that was currently in place underscored that.

She insisted the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan needed to be able to engage together in a critical first step. The US was not a substitute for the Afghan people and the Afghan government, she added.

The top American diplomat the Afghans had to be able to talk to one another. As last week’s Kabulinfo-icon Process underscored, the international community would be supportive of the negotiation effort,” she remarked.

According to her, the Taliban control about 12 percent of the population and the government control 56 percent, while other areas are contested.

“Over the last year, the Taliban have not succeeded in threatening major urban centers. So already there’s been an erosion in what they hoped to achieve on the battlefield, and that erosion will continue, with increased assets being brought to bear under the South Asia strategy.

“We will see the battlefield conditions change, but at the same time, the door has been opened quite significantly to a political process. And so to try to characterise the South Asia Strategy as a military plan is simply wrong. There are two parts to this strategy, each is equally thought out and invested in.”

She thought President Ghani had done an extremely effective job in laying out a vision for his country, the Taliban and fellow Afghans,” Wells said.

Referring to Ghani’s remarks at conference, she said it was quite significant that he suggested there could be constitutional amendments so that the constitution was owned by all Afghan people.

“What we’ve encouraged the government of Afghanistan to undertake a series of reforms that have been enshrined in the Afghanistan Compact that look at improvements in governance and economics and reconciliation and security,” Wells concluded.

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