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There's no question we need Pakistan's help with the Taliban: US official

August 31, 2018

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The US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall G Schriver, speaking on the tri-lateral relationship between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. —Screenshot courtesy US Dept of Defense
The US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall G Schriver, speaking on the tri-lateral relationship between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. —Screenshot courtesy US Dept of Defense

The US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs, Randall G Schriver, said on Wednesday, during at an event organised by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, that there is no question Pakistan's help is needed to deal with the Taliban.

During a conversation with moderator Ashley Tellis from Carnegie, when asked regarding the triangular relationship between India, the US and Pakistan, Schriver responded by saying that the Trump administration wants to "give the new prime minister [Imran Khan] and the new government of Pakistan space to explore where there may be opportunities to improve relations with India".

Upon Tellis' inquiry as to how that relates to the issue of Afghanistan and shared interests, he unequivocally said: "There's no question we need Pakistan's help in encouraging, persuading, pressuring Taliban to come to the negotiating table."

Appreciating Ghani's offer for a ceasefire which he considered was pulled off successfully, Schriver said that there is a definite interest to "talk about a future where the Taliban are included not through force but a political process".

He said that while the administration had decided on "curbing assistance and putting constraints on Pakistan as a means to try to persuade them to adopt that course and use their influence on the Taliban", it was something that was still being evaluated.

"It's certainly not where we want it to be but its something I think we'll stick with. The end state should be one we can all agree on."

Schriver said that it was a matter of dealing with suspicions and distrust between all the regional players.

"If we can get some momentum behind this, the second ceasefire offer, and have that lead to some political dialogue, I think that would go a long way in reducing suspicions among all these other actors and players," he concluded.