Tuesday, October 16, 2018 | ePaper

US picking up Taliban interest in Afghan peace talks: Mattis

  • Print


The US is picking up interest from the Taliban in exploring the possibility of talks with Kabul to end the war, said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis

Reuters, Kabul :
The United States is picking up signs of interest from Taliban elements in exploring the possibility of talks with Kabul to end the more than 16-year-old war, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday as he made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan.
"There is interest that we've picked up from the Taliban side," Mattis told reporters before landing in Kabul, saying the signs dated back several months.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered talks without preconditions with the Taliban insurgents last month, in what was seen by U.S. officials as a major overture from Kabul.
Mattis said some of his indications, which he did not detail, dated back before Ghani's remarks.
"We've had some groups of Taliban - small groups - who have either started to come over or expressed an interest in talking," Mattis said.
"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," he said.
The United States has in the past also expressed hope of "peeling off" elements of the Taliban and it was unclear how this new effort might be different.
Western diplomats and officials in Kabul say contacts involving intermediaries have been underway with the aim of agreeing on ground rules and potential areas of discussion for possible talks with at least some elements in the Taliban.
However, the insurgents, who seized a district center in western Afghanistan earlier this week, have given no public sign of accepting Ghani's offer, instead issuing several statements suggesting they intended to keep fighting.
The United States has stepped up assistance to the Afghan military and greatly increased air strikes against the Taliban as part of its new regional strategy announced last year, in a bid to break the stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.

More News For this Category

Saudi Arabia warns against any sanctions over missing Khashoggi case

Saudi Arabia warns against any sanctions over missing Khashoggi case

Reuters, Washington :Saudi Arabia on Sunday warned against threats to punish it over last week's disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as European leaders piled on pressure and two more US

Trump says he is ‘comfortable’ as President despite political battles

Trump says he is ‘comfortable’ as President despite political battles

Reuters, Washington :President Donald Trump said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that he was "comfortable" in the White House after almost two years in office, despite political storms over

Prince Harry and wife Meghan expecting a baby

Prince Harry and wife Meghan expecting a baby

AFP, London :Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, are expecting a baby in the spring of 2019, they announced on Monday as they began a Pacific

May under mounting pressure to rethink Brexit plan

May under mounting pressure to rethink Brexit plan

Reuters, Belfast :British Prime Minister Theresa May was under mounting pressure on Monday to rethink her plan for leaving the European Union after Brexit talks reached a stand-off at the

Imran Khan's party loses seats vacated by him in by-poll

Imran Khan's party loses seats vacated by him in by-poll

PTI, Islamabad :Pakistan's deposed premier Nawaz Sharif's PML-N recovered some ground in the by-elections by eating up the votes of prime minister Imran Khan's PTI, winning four out of 11

News in brief

Amnesty researcher abducted, beaten in RussiaAP, Moscow Rights group Amnesty International says its researcher in Russia's North Caucasus has been abducted and beaten while reporting on protests in the region.

Trump explains `eligibility` for those who want to come to US

Trump explains `eligibility` for those who want to come to US

PTI, Washington :US President Donald Trump has said that he wants people with merit, who can help, to enter the country and not sneak inside the border illegally."I'm very tough

No jihadists seen exiting Syria buffer on eve of deadline

No jihadists seen exiting Syria buffer on eve of deadline

AFP, Beirut  :Hardline fighters have yet to begin withdrawing from a planned buffer zone in northwestern Syria, a monitor and an AFP correspondent said Sunday on the eve of the

Trump thanks Turkey for pastor's release, denies cutting deal

Trump thanks Turkey for pastor's release, denies cutting deal

Reuters, Washington :President Donald Trump said on Saturday the release of U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson after two years in Turkish custody was a "tremendous step" toward improved relations with Turkey,

US wants ‘regime change’ in Iran: Rouhani

US wants ‘regime change’ in Iran: Rouhani

Reuters, Tehran :The United States is seeking "regime change" in Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday, adding that the current US administration is the most hostile that the Islamic