WASHINGTON, DC — The United States is willing to address the “legitimate grievances” of Afghan Taliban terrorists during peace negotiations, a top U.S. State Department of State (DOS) official told reporters.
During a press briefing this week, Alice G. Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary for DOS’ Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, said:
We believe that the intensified efforts under the South Asia strategy to put military pressure on the Taliban are important, that these military efforts help shape the conditions for talks and help to underscore that there is no military victory for the Taliban, that ultimately their legitimate grievances will have to be addressed at a negotiating table. We’d like to see them come to this table sooner rather than later.
She also acknowledged that Pakistan, an ally of the Afghan Taliban, has a significant role to play in the Afghan war peace process.
Wells also told reporters:
We believe that Pakistan can certainly help to facilitate talks and to take actions that will put pressure on and encourage the Taliban to move forward towards a politically negotiated settlement. And our engagement with Pakistan is on how we can work together, on how we can address Pakistan’s legitimate concerns and Afghanistan’s stability through a negotiated process as well.
Obviously, as Pakistani officials have underscored, they see a variety of issues, whether it’s border management or refugees or terrorism that emanates from ungoverned space in Afghanistan, as important issues, and we would agree that all of these need to be resolved during the course of a reconciliation process.
U.S. President Donald Trump has suspended an estimated $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan over Islamabad’s reluctance to take decisive action against the terrorists it harbors on its soil, namely the Afghan Taliban and their Haqqani Network allies who are fighting American troops and their allies in neighboring Afghanistan.
According to U.S. military and independent assessments, the Taliban controls or contests about 45 percent of Afghanistan.
The U.S. has spent more than $877 billion on the ongoing war in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001 in response to 9/11.
Nearly 17 years later, and al-Qaeda and their Taliban allies remain a threat in the country. Terrorists in Afghanistan, mainly the Taliban, have killed most of the 2,263 American soldiers who have lost their lives in the war-ravaged country and wounded an additional 20,289 others.