Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Mattis, Afghan Leaders Meet in Kabul

Mattis, Afghan Leaders Meet in Kabul Mattis, Afghan Leaders Meet in Kabul
Patty Aguilar | 15 March, 2018, 02:03

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but the Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in Helmand.

Earlier, officials said that Kabul was deploying more troops to Farah to counter the frequent Taliban attacks and protect a planned multi-billion-dollar pipeline.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month unveiled a plan to open talks to end the 16-year-old war, offering to negotiate with the Taliban without any preconditions.

Ghani, hosting Mattis at his presidential palace in Kabul, described the new US strategy as a game changer, allowing Kabul to extend its peace offer to the Taliban without doing so from a position of weakness. The offers made to those insurgents willing to renounce violence included political recognition, a release of prisoners, as well as passports to Taliban members and visas to their families. The Afghan leader also called for a ceasefire after which the Taliban could become a political party.

The article released by the Taliban, which was headlined "Who are the true enemies of peace?" urged the United States, instead of the Kabul government, to come to talks, in what appears a snub to Mr Ghani, who they see as a stooge for America.

Trump has made no secret of anger toward Pakistan or his pessimism about Taliban peace talks, declaring on January 29 after a series of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan: "I don't see any talking taking place". "The permission of peace and war are with the Americans and they have taken the land and air space of Afghanistan under their unlawful control", it read.

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An outright refusal to talk to Ghani's administration would give Afghan and USA forces justification to ramp up air strikes against the militants.

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, on a surprise visit to Kabul on Tuesday, reaffirmed that position. "Right now we want the Afghans to lead and to provide the substance of the reconciliation effort", Mattis said.

Mattis stressed that the military campaign was aimed at driving the insurgents toward a political reconciliation, as opposed to an outright battlefield defeat.

Afghanistan has deployed more troops to a restive western province where a multi-billion-dollar pipeline is planned after the Taliban launched multiple attacks against security forces, causing heavy casualties, officials said Wednesday.

.

Abdul Samad Salehi, a member of the Farah provincial council, said four of those killed in Wednesday's attack were from the intelligence service and six were police.

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