by WorldTribune Staff, November 18, 2018
The Afghan Taliban recently held talks with a U.S. envoy as the Trump administration pushes for an end to a 17-year conflict the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff admitted there is “no military” solution for.
U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met with high-ranking members of the Taliban for three days in Qatar, The Associated Press reported on Nov. 18.
On Nov. 17, Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Taliban, which controls more territory than any time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, is “not losing” and there is no “military solution” to ending the war.
“We do believe the Taliban know that at some point they do have to reconcile,” Dunford said. “The key to success is to combine all that pressure to incentivize the Taliban” to negotiate.
Afghan media quoted Khalilzad as saying that he hopes a peace deal with the Taliban would be reached before Afghanistan’s next presidential election on April 20, 2019.
“I am talking to all interested parties, all Afghan groups… and I think there is an opportunity for reconciliation and peace,” Khalilzad told a news conference in Kabul, without referring explicitly to the talks in Qatar.
“The Afghan government wants peace,” the U.S. envoy also said. “The Taliban [is] saying they do not believe they can succeed militarily, that they would like to see the problems that remain resolved by peaceful means, by political negotiations.”
Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former Taliban governor of Herat Province, and Mohammed Fazl, former Taliban military chief, attended the talks with Khalilzad in Qatar where the Afghan militant group has a political office, the AP report said.
Khairkhwa and Fazl were among five senior Taliban members released from the U.S. military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2014 in exchange for U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl. All five former Guantanamo Bay detainees are now based in Qatar.