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Tashkent Conference: US backs direct talks between Afghan Govt., Taliban


ANI Tashkent [Uzbekistan]
The United States (US) has dwelled upon its support for the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban to end the 16-year conflict in the war-torn country.
"One month ago, we came together at the Second Kabul Process Conference and affirmed that the only way to achieve our shared objectives is through a negotiated political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban," US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon remarked at two-day international conference on Afghanistan held in Uzbek capital Tashkent.
"In Kabul, President Ghani outlined a courageous vision for a path to peace that can lead to a political process to end the conflict in Afghanistan," Shannon added, "The United States supports President Ghani's call for exploratory talks."
The conference comes on the heels of the so-called Kabul Process event held in the Afghan capital on February 28, in which Afghan President Ashraf Ghani proposed peace talks with the Taliban without preconditions, according to the reports.
The Taliban has agreed to hold direct talks with the US to achieve a "peaceful solution" to end the Afghanistan conflict.
The Taliban underscored that the conflict in Afghanistan could not be solved militarily and that it wanted the US forces and its allies to withdraw from the war-torn country, TOLOnews reported.
However, the US reportedly refused to withdraw troops and insisted that the Afghan government must play a lead role in peace negotiations.
Reaffirming its support for peace and stability in Afghanistan, the US diplomat also stated, "We will continue to support the Afghan government and its security services. Just as we wholeheartedly support the Afghan government's peace initiative, we and our NATO allies and Partners are fully committed to ensuring that the Afghan government has the capabilities to deny the Taliban any military path to victory."
"Afghan security forces are implementing key reforms and demonstrating that they can defend the Afghan people. These reforms strengthen the fight against ISIS, al-Qa'ida, TTP, IMU, LeT, and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan. Working together, Afghan and U.S. forces have eliminated ISIS leaders, removed hundreds of ISIS fighters from the battlefield, and reduced the terrain that ISIS controls, including in Northern Afghanistan," Shannon added.
Representatives from over 20 countries and international organisations took part in the the Tashkent conference, including from the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, and Central Asian nations.

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First Published: Mar 29 2018 | 2:28 AM IST

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