A top official at the U.S. State Department has indicated that the United States is eager to address the “legitimate grievances” of Afghan Taliban terrorists during peace negotiations.
Alice G. Wells, principal deputy assistant secretary for DOS’ Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said during a recent press briefing, “We believe that the intensified efforts under the South Asia strategy to put military pressure on the Taliban are important, that these military efforts help shape the conditions for talks and help to underscore that there is no military victory for the Taliban, that ultimately their legitimate grievances will have to be addressed at a negotiating table. We’d like to see them come to this table sooner rather than later.”
Pakistan, an ally of the Afghan Taliban, could play a role in the diplomatic process, Breitbart reported.
“We believe that Pakistan can certainly help to facilitate talks and to take actions that will put pressure on and encourage the Taliban to move forward towards a politically negotiated settlement,” Wells said. “And our engagement with Pakistan is on how we can work together, on how we can address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns and Afghanistan’s stability through a negotiated process as well.”
Pakistani officials have cited a number of important issues than need to be addressed during a reconciliation process, including border management, refugees and terrorism that emerges from ungoverned space in Afghanistan.
In response to Pakistan’s reluctance to take action against the terrorists it harbors, President Donald Trump has suspended an estimated $2 billion in security aid to the country. Terrorists groups operating in Pakistan include the Afghan Taliban and their Haqqani Network allies who are fighting American troops and their allies in neighboring Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is supported by the U.S., has offered the Taliban a ceasefire and political power, yet only a small group of the terrorists have accepted his offer to negotiate.
The Taliban controls or contests approximately 45 percent of Afghanistan, according to U.S. military and independent assessments.
The ongoing war in Afghanistan began in October 2001 as a response to the 9/11 attack on the U.S., which has spent more than $877 billion during the conflict.
Al-Qaeda and their Taliban allies remain a threat in Afghanistan, where terrorists — mainly the Taliban — have killed most of the 2,263 American soldiers who have died there and wounded 20,289 others.