Published: Mon, July 30, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Taliban says group spoke with US official

Taliban says group spoke with US official

A top source in the Taliban has revealed that a high ranking U.S. official, Alice Wells, held talks with the Taliban leadership in Qatar earlier this week.

"They involved several members of the Taliban political commission and Alice Wells, the State Department's senior South Asia diplomat, as well as other unidentified American diplomats", said The New York Times. Despite the talks, which the Taliban called "a series of meetings for initiating formal and purposeful talks", the USA maintains any peace negotiations must be made between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

During a news conference last month in Brussels, Gen. John Nicholson Jr., commander of the US -led coalition in Afghanistan, said remote outposts were being overrun by the Taliban, which were seizing local forces' vehicles and equipment.

"The discussion was preliminary, initial and both discussed a future meeting and contacts", said the Taliban official.

As recently as last week, United States officials were denying reports they were ready to speak directly to the Taliban.

It was not clear when the next meeting would be held or with whom, but the Taliban official who spoke out was certain one would be held.

The withdrawal resembles strategies embraced by both the Bush and Obama administrations that have started and stuttered over the almost 17-year war, the Times said, adding, that it will effectively ensure that the Taliban and other insurgent groups will hold on to territory that they have already seized, leaving the government in Kabul to safeguard the capital and cities such as Kandahar, Kunduz, Mazar-i-Sharif and Jalalabad.

Ms Wells was in Doha, the Qatar capital, this week.

Trump's surrender in the country comes as an acknowledgement that he can not lead the American military to victory over the terrorists responsible for the most traumatic attack ever launched against the US government on American soil.

Until now, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national security team has said it is ready to hold talks with the Taliban at any time and that their allies, including the U.S., should participate only as observers.

The retreat to the cities is a searing acknowledgment that the US -installed government in Afghanistan remains unable to lead and protect the country's sprawling rural population.

The Afghan president's office said Saturday that it welcomed any support for peace efforts.

News of the meeting follows a directive from the Trump administration for USA diplomats to talk directly with the Afghan militant group.

The current leadership, most of whom are Mullah Omar's contemporaries, still believe their future in Afghanistan can be guaranteed only if the US's concerns are addressed. They also destroyed 15 militants' command and control posts and 352 bunkers in different places over the period, according to official figures.

Earlier, a State Department official told Dawn that Washington was exploring "all avenues" to advance the Afghan peace process, and was doing so "in close consultation" with the Afghan government.

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