The U.S. President Donald Trump has reportedly ordered American envoys to seek direct talks with the Taliban, in a major shift in Washington’s policy in Afghanistan to end the 17-year-old conflict in the country.
The change in White House stance rolls back a long-held position that any talks must be led and controlled by the Afghan government.
The White House has now told diplomats to seek initial talks with the Taliban to try to kick start a wider peace process to end the war in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.
The shift to priorities initial US talks with the Taliban over what has proved a futile “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” process stems from a realisation by both Afghan and American officials that Trump’s new Afghanistan strategy is not making a fundamental difference in rolling back Taliban gains, according to the Times report.
While no date for any talks has been set, and the effort could still be derailed, the willingness of the United States to pursue direct talks is an indication of the sense of urgency in the administration to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.
Confirming the move, Afghanistan’s High Peace Council said that the Trump administration wants to boost peace process with the Taliban by involving in direct peace talks with the militant group, following the Afghan government’s repeated call for regional cooperation in this regard.
Taliban leaders have long said they will not talk with the Afghan government, and will instead only talk with the United States, which ousted the group from power in 2001.