Washington is expecting the Afghan government’s engagement in the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban, the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said during a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the sidelines of Munich Security Conference on Saturday.
Pence said that the United States is encouraged that the Taliban has shown the interest to come to the negotiating table after years of fighting.
“We are encouraged that the Taliban has come to the table and we look forward to those discussions going forward,” Pence said.
The Taliban has held at least four round of talks with the U.S. representatives so far, but the armed group has repeatedly refused to engage in talks with the Afghan government, insisting that the U.S. is their main adversary.
However, the U.S. Vice President said that they are expecting the Afghan government’s inclusion in the peace talks.
“We look forward to your engagement and the government’s engagement,” Pence told Ghani.
He, meanwhile, expressed hope that the ongoing peace efforts reach into a peaceful statement in Afghanistan that could let the Afghans to have a “great future” and that Afghanistan never again used by terrorist organizations to bring violence against Afghan people and nations around the world including the United States.
On his turn, President Ghani paid tribute to sacrifices of the American troops in Afghanistan. He said since he became president only 66 American troops have been killed in his country.
“It is fortunate that since I have been president only 66 American [troops] paid the ultimate sacrifices, 66 is to many but clearly after the transition and with the launch of South Asia strategy now the war is no longer an American war,” he said.
Thanking the U.S. forces’ support to Afghanistan, Ghani said that it is the “patriotic” Afghan security forces that are doing the fighting and that are dying for “a free homeland and for a secure world”.
The Afghan president also hailed the U.S. South Asia Strategy and described as “game changer”. He said the strategy is working.
“We would like to thank President Trump and yourself who have paid a very significant role in making this possible,” Ghani told Pence.
Regarding the ongoing peace talks, Ghani said that it is “critical” to ensure an “enduring” peace results from these discussions.