Washington: At a rare meeting, senior US military officials urged the Taliban in Afghanistan to reduce violence as the outgoing President Donald Trump tried to expedite the end of the nearly 20-year war.
General Mark Millley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively met with Taliban representatives in Qatar and held a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul.
It was only the second time the top US general met with the Taliban, whom the US military had tried unsuccessfully to destroy in battle, although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also met the Islamist militants in Qatar.
In his talks with the Taliban, Milley “discussed the need for an immediate reduction of violence and (to) accelerate progress towards a negotiated political solution which contributes to regional stability and safeguards US national interests,” spokeswoman Commander Sarah Flaherty said.
Flaherty said that Millley told Ghani separately that the United States was still “fully committed to helping Afghans build a safe and stable Afghanistan.”
According to the February 29 agreement reached in Doha, the United States moved to withdraw its troops in May 2021, and the Taliban agreed not to allow extremists to use Afghanistan-this was the original reason for the US invasion after the September 11, 2001 attack.
The Taliban have since held fire on US troops but not on Afghan forces, with violence surging in recent weeks even as the insurgents meet in Qatar with the internationally recognized government, which the militants consider illegitimate.
The attack included a rampage of guns in a classroom at Kabul University. The Islamic State extremist movement claimed responsibility, but the authorities accused the Haqqani network of being a branch of the Taliban, and US officials believed that the network had ties to Pakistan.