US in ‘very, very early’ stages of talks with Taliban – US top commander

WASHINGTON, US Commander of the US Central Command (Centcom) Joseph Votel said Tuesday that the US is in “very, very early” stages of talks with the Taliban and pressed for the Afghan government to be included in the solution.

“I would characterize where we are in the process as very, very early in the process,” Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Votel added that he and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad have “attempted to create a framework by which we can move forward with discussions that would be certainly involving the government of Afghanistan. We clearly recognize that they have to be part if this solution and must be in the negotiation aspects of this.” The commander stressed that the US would still need to support Afghan security forces financially even if it withdrew troops from the country.

Last month the US and the Taliban held peace talks in Doha for six days and Khalilzad has also led other negotiations in Afghanistan.

Source: Kuwait News Agency