Political talks with Taliban key part of endgame, says US commander

Published February 6, 2019
Gen Scott Miller says peace talks with Afghan Taliban "are positive". — File photo
Gen Scott Miller says peace talks with Afghan Taliban "are positive". — File photo

WASHINGTON: Top US commander in Afghan­istan said on Tuesday that political talks with the Taliban were a key part of the US endgame in Afghanistan.

In an interview to ABC News, General Scott Miller also said that neither the US nor the Taliban were in a position to win the war and that’s why it was important to look for a political settlement.

“The political talks, I do think are, are positive,” said General Miller who served in Afghanistan in 2001-2002 as a young officer and was now back as the commander of all US and Nato forces.

“Neither side will win it militarily, and if neither side will win it militarily you have to move into a ... towards a political settlement here,” he told it ABC News team.

Asked if he believed the Taliban were key part of the US endgame in Afghanistan, he said: “Absolutely.”

US Special Represen­tative for Afghanistan Reconcil­iation, Amba­ssador Zalmay Khalilzad, has held several rounds of talks with Taliban insurgents in Doha, Qatar, and UAE and hopes to hold more talks soon.

After the last round in January, he told reporters that US and Taliban delegates had agreed on a draft agreement and were now working on some key issues.

About 14,000 US troops are still serving in Afghanistan and President Donald Trump plans to withdraw half of them soon.

Asked if he had received orders to start sending his troops home, General Miller replied “no.”

“I have the authorities of the capabilities that I need from the US and the coalition standpoint to work with our Afghan partners. At the same time, as a commander, I’m always trying to bring the footprint down, bring our force structure down,” he said.

General Miller made clear that there was no endgame in Afghanistan that provided a safe haven for terrorists.

“In 2001, it was very clear to the world what we were doing in Afghanistan. In 2019, there still are national interests that need to be safeguarded,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 6th, 2019

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