Mattis makes surprise Afghanistan visit to talk about peace with Taliban

Randolph Lopez
March 14, 2018

"We do look toward a victory in Afghanistan", he said, adding, "not a military victory - the victory will be a political reconciliation" with the Taliban, which has achieved a stalemate in recent years and shown little interest in conceding to the Kabul government.

The US has, in the past, also expressed hope of "peeling off" elements of the Taleban, and it was unclear how this new effort might be different.

"All wars come to an end", Mattis said, The Washington Post reported.

The Pentagon chief defined the final goal of the conflict as political reconciliation between the warring parties rather than a military victory.

"But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered talks without preconditions with the Taliban insurgents last month, in what was seen by USA officials as a major overture from Kabul".

The visit, which was not announced due to security concerns, comes after the United States stepped up assistance to the Afghan military as part of a new regional strategy announced a year ago. But he said it was still too much to expect the whole Taliban to do so.

While all of the Taliban may not be interested in peace talks, several smaller factions are, Mattis said Tuesday before landing in Kabul to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. While the Taliban expressed interest in reaching a political settlement, they have yet to respond to Ghani's offer.

The military is battling a Taliban insurgency while also fighting Daesh terrorist group's gradual expansion in the country's north and its regular attacks in the capital Kabul.

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Uzbekistan is set to host an Afghan peace conference later this month, where participants are expected to call for direct talks between the militant group and Ghani's government. But Talibans state the sending of soldiers by the USA to Afghanistan shows that Washington does not really want the peace. They said that while Afghan forces are getting better, the Taliban is likely to threaten Afghan stability this year.

They have offered to talk directly to the United States about a possible peace agreement.

Mattis said he's seen initial indications that there have been changes in Pakistan's behavior but that he wants to use the trip to find out more.

USA intelligence officials are predicting the war will remain stalemated as the traditionally most intensive fighting season begins this spring.

Mattis' visit comes a week after United States intelligence officials told Congress that the Taliban was likely to continue to threaten Afghan stability in 2018, despite an improvement in Afghan security forces.

It marks Mattis' third visit to the country, where around 11,000 US troops are stationed.

As part of its new strategy for Afghanistan, the United States has boosted the number of US troops in Afghanistan by at least 3,500, to a total of more than 14,000, and stepped up air strikes in the country. More than 3,000 additional US forces have also arrived in Afghanistan to boost the training and advising of local troops.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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