Mattis Says Some Taliban Factions Might Be Interested In Peace Talks

AP License N  A Created 2018:03:09 13:10:32

13 de marzo de 2018, 15:13Kabul, Mar 13 (Prensa Latina) US Defense Secretary James Mattis arrived in this capital Tuesday in a surprise visit, to meet Afghan President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani.

The Taliban has said it will talk to the United States, but not the Western-backed Afghan government the insurgents see as illegitimate.

Speaking to reporters aboard a military jet, he said: "We've had some groups of Taleban - small groups - who have either started to come over or expressed an interest in talking".

"There is interest that we've picked up from the Taliban side", Mattis said.

With U.S. support, the Afghan government has made a surprising new peace offer to the Taliban, only to immediately run into a wall.

Two weeks ago, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered direct talks with the Taliban with no preconditions. He told reporters some factions of the Taliban have expressed interest in reconciling with the Afghan government. But he said it was still too much to expect the whole Taliban to do so.

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.

He said, "Of course it's all working to achieve a reconciliation".

However, the insurgents, who seized a district center in western Afghanistan this week, have given no public sign of accepting Ghani's offer, instead issuing several statements suggesting they meant to keep fighting. "Not a military victory - the victory will be a political reconciliation".

US intelligence officials are predicting the war will remain stalemated as the traditionally most intensive fighting season begins this spring.

The U.S. Defense chief says the Taliban is coming closer to taking part in peace talks.

As part of an effort to bolster Afghan fighting strength, the USA in recent weeks sent an Army group of about 800 soldiers, accompanied by several hundred support troops, to advise the Afghans closer to the front lines.

As part of the so-called South Asia Strategy, President Donald Trump past year ordered the increased bombing of Taliban targets - including drug-making labs and training camps. United States is keeping almost 14,000 soldiers in Afghanistan, after 3,000 arrived to reinforce the existing troops. Put another way - the aim is to convince the insurgents they can not win on the battlefield, thus driving them to reconcile with the Afghan government. In late February, Ghani called on the Taliban to take part in peace talks to "save the country", offering security and incentives such as passports to insurgents who are willing to join the negotiations.

Last week, senior USA intelligence officials gave Congress a mix forecast for Afghanistan.

The group has said it is prepared to negotiate, but only with the United States and not with the Kabul government.

"I want to talk to people here and see the reality of how they see it, and go back and talk to our intelligence agencies to get a full assessment of where we're at", he said.

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