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Taliban key impediment to Afghan settlement: US

Taliban key impediment to Afghan settlement: US

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Nov 12, 2017 - 18:11

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): A top American diplomat has told lawmakers the Taliban are key impediment to a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistaninfo-icon, adding the US wants the Talibaninfo-icon on the table as early as possible.

“The key impediment to achieving a peaceful negotiated settlement is the unwillingness of the Taliban to engage directly with the government of Afghanistan,” acting assistant secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs and Acting Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Alice Wells told lawmakers during a Congressional hearing this week.

“We have to change that calculus of the Taliban using both military and political means.”

Wells said the Trump administration has always set no preconditions to negotiations but “in conditions”. The in conditions have been a cessation of violence, cessation of ties to terrorist networks and respect for the Constitution including the provisions for women and minorities and that continues to be the case”, she added.

“There is necessarily going to have to be an Afghan to Afghan conversation. President Trump was very clear that we're not there to micromanage how Afghans decide among themselves to live and to regulate their political life. This has been a remarkably open approach and by successive administrations including the Trump administration.”

“The impediments are foremost the unwillingness today of the Taliban to enter into negotiations with the government of Afghanistan whether privately or publicly,” she said

Tillerson, she said, has been quite explicit that there is a role and a place at the table for moderate Taliban. “And we look for them to join this process. The task right now is how do we get the Taliban to the negotiating table,” she said.

The United States, she said, will vigorously pursue international and regional efforts to build broad support among the region to increase pressure on the Taliban to come to the negotiating table.

Pakistaninfo-icon of course is a central part of our strategy,” she said.

lkj/ma

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