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Secret talks on with some Taliban factions: Nicholson

Secret talks on with some Taliban factions: Nicholson

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May 31, 2018 - 13:45

PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Some Talibaninfo-icon factions are engaged in clandestine negotiations with the Ashraf Ghani administration, America’s top general in Afghanistaninfo-icon said on Wednesday.

Intensified dialogue and a 30 percent fall in the levels of violence had happened due to President Trump's new Afghan strategy, Gen. John Nicholson told Pentagon reporters via a teleconference from Kabulinfo-icon.

“I call this talking and fighting. We've seen this in other conflicts, such as Colombia, where the two sides were talking about peace at the same time that they were fighting each other on the battlefield,” he said.

Although the Taliban had not yet formally responded to President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace talks, a robust dialogue was underway within the Taliban, he added.

Gen. Nicholson claimed some secret meetings had taken place between the Afghan government and Taliban leaders. “A lot of diplomatic activity and dialogue is occurring off the stage.”

“A number of channels of dialogue have opened up between the various stakeholders in the peace process,” continued Nicholson, who said names were kept confidential to improve the chances of reaching official negotiations.

Violence in Afghanistan between February and April had dropped by 30 percent below the five-year average, the outgoing NATOinfo-icon commander explained.

Taliban Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid spurned Gen. Nicholson’s claim. He said: “Gen. Nicholson’s claim regarding the Taliban’s contact is far from truth. The Islamic Emirate position regarding negotiation repeated several times and it is not hidden and covert.”

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