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US eyes victory in Afghanistan on reconciliation front

US eyes victory in Afghanistan on reconciliation front

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Mar 13, 2018 - 10:51

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Kabul on an unannounced visit on Tuesday to assess progress in the conflict and explore prospects of reconciliation with the Talibaninfo-icon.

During his unannounced trip, one government official told Pajhwok Afghan News, the defence secretary would meet President Ashraf Ghani, other government officials and US commander John Nicholson.

Before landing in the capital, Mattis told journalists accompanying him that a political settlement between the Ghani administration and the Taliban was likely. He claimed seeing signs of interest from some Taliban elements in talks.

Some Taliban factions had evinced an interest in pursuing peace negotiations with the government, the secretary said, claiming there was an interest in reaching a political settlement.

He was quoted as saying: "There is interest that we've picked up from the Taliban side. We've had some groups of Taliban that have either started to come over or expressed an interest in talking."

However, he explained: "In other words, it may not be that the whole Taliban comes over in one fell swoop. That may be a bridge too far to expect. But there are elements of the Taliban clearly interested in talking to the Afghan government."

Mattis believed victory in Afghanistaninfo-icon was still possible, not necessarily on the battlefield but in facilitating Taliban’s reconciliation with the unity government.

Journalists traveling with him were not allowed to file stories about the secretary’s unannounced arrival until they moved from the airport to the coalition’s headquarters in Kabul.

Mattis said: “We do look toward a victory in Afghanistan. Not a military win. The victory will be a political reconciliation.” The US wanted to help Afghan forces undermine the Taliban to the point where the Afghans could manage their own security.

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