WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s decision to facilitate direct talks between the Afghan government and Taliban militants advances prospects for a credible peace, says the White House.
“We both (the United States and Afghanistan) acknowledge and appreciate Pakistan’s important efforts to host these conversations,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told a briefing in Washington. “This is an important step in advancing prospects for a credible peace.”
He also expressed similar hopes and praised Kabul for participating in the talks.
“The United States commends the government of Afghanistan’s prioritisation of peace and reconciliation efforts with the Taliban,” he said.
Mr Earnest said that the United States had always encouraged Afghans to participate in an Afghan-led process. He hoped that such a process would bring about a political reconciliation in Afghanistan and a de-escalation, if not an end, to the violence that had wracked that country for more than a decade now.
“That’s a process that we’re going to continue to be supportive of,” said the White House official when asked if the talks had increased Washington’s optimism for a breakthrough in the peace process.
“But ultimately it’s a process that must be led by the Afghan people and the Afghan government, of course,” he added.
Meanwhile, a former commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, asked US President Barack Obama to keep American troops in the country after 2016 as well. The Obama administration plans to withdraw all its troops by the end of 2016.
“The right approach is for Mr Obama to protect our investment in Afghanistan and to hand off to his successor military forces and tools that will still be critically needed in 2017 and beyond,” he wrote in a piece co-authored with a Washington think-tank expert, Michael O’Hanlon.
“We can schedule an end to our role in that nation’s conflict, but we cannot schedule an end to the war there or an end to the threat from Al Qaeda, the Islamic State or other extremist elements of the global jihad,” said the article published in The Washington Post on Wednesday.