Top US general in Afghanistan urges 'tired' Taliban to talk peace

Lester Mason
March 15, 2018

Militants attacked a security checkpoint in Farah Province early on March 14, killing at least eight security forces and wounding a number of others, according to provincial council members. At least two Afghan police personnel were killed and two others injured after a suicide auto bombing struck a border police outpost in southern Helmand province on Wednesday, provincial government spokesman said.

Meanwhile, former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the main objective of mounting military pressure against the Taliban on the battlefields is to put pressure on the group to endorse a political settlement to the conflict.

Farah provincial council member Abdul Samad Salehi said the security forces were battling the Taliban on three fronts. In a separate attack, a suicide blast claimed the lives of two border police personnel in Helmand province.

"We have asked the central government for additional troops before Farah city falls into the hands of the Taliban", Salehi said.

He said another three police officers were wounded in the attack in the southern province's Nad Ali district.

Afghan security forces keep watch near the site of an explosion in Kabul
Afghan security forces keep watch near the site of an explosion in Kabul

Washington's apparent policy shift after 16 years, from a military victory to a political reconciliation with the Taliban, came two weeks after President Ashraf Ghani, in an global conference in Kabul on February 28, had offered the Taliban a similar proposal that called for a "ceasefire", the recognition of the Taliban as a political party, confidence-building measures, and free and fair elections.

Now is the best time for the Taliban to negotiate for peace, the top USA general in Afghanistan said Wednesday, warning that an increased air and ground campaign against the insurgents would only get worse.

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. That would be a bridge too far. He offered his full support to the Afghan-led reconciliation process, White said, noting that it is aimed at achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

Before landing in the Afghan capital, Mattis told reporters that the United States was picking up signs of interest from groups of Taliban fighters in exploring the possibility of talks to end the violence. The Taliban also says that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces must withdraw before negotiations can begin.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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