US sees hope for negotiated end to war in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON – Agence France-Presse
The United States dared to permit itself renewed hope March 1 that the longest war in its history may be closer to a negotiated settlement, after Afghan-led talks went better than expected.
After 17 years of guerrilla conflict and several diplomatic false starts, American officials take nothing for granted -- and they still expect the spring thaw to herald more fierce fighting.
But they were pleased, both publicly and privately, by this week’s international conference in Kabul, which they see as a step towards talks between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban.
Ghani played his role to a tee, holding out his hand to the Taliban and suggesting that if they join talks they could be recognized as a political party with a legitimate role in Afghanistan’s future.
Washington, even under war-skeptic President Donald Trump, will not seek a unilateral deal with the Taliban to extricate itself from a long, inconclusive conflict, but will instead encourage an Afghan dialogue.
And, just as U.S. policy makers have concluded the still improving US-backed Afghan military cannot win a decisive victory, they now believe the Taliban must understand it will never retake Kabul.