There’s a Place for ‘Moderate Taliban’ in Afghanistan Government, says Tillerson

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SHAFAQNA – There are moderate elements within the Taliban who do not want to continue fighting forever, says the U.S. secretary of state.

“So we are looking to engage with those voices and engage them in a reconciliation process leading to peace,” Rex Tillerson said on Monday.

After an unscheduled visit to Afghanistan, he told reporters at the Bagram airbase the U.S. looked forward to the full involvement and participation of such insurgents in the government.

“There’s a place for them in the government if they’re ready to come renouncing terrorism, violence and being committed to a stable, prosperous Afghanistan,” he said.

He hastened to add the U.S. would continue the fight against the Taliban and others to make them understand they would never win a military victory.

President Donald Trump had made it clear that the Americans would stay in Afghanistan until it could secure a process of reconciliation and peace. It was neither an unlimited commitment, but a conditions-based commitment, he said.

Tillerson believed Afghanistan had come a long way in terms of creating a vibrant population, government, educational system and a larger economy.

“We want to work with regional partners to ensure there are no threats in the region. And this is very much a regional effort, as you saw was rolled out in the strategy itself.

“So we’re demanding others also deny safe haven to terrorists anywhere in the region. We are working closely with Pakistan in that regard as well,” the secretary continued.

In response to a query, he said President Ashraf Ghani had assured him of his firm commitment to continuing reforms in Afghanistan, as well as his new anti-corruption strategy.

At his meeting with Ghani, preparations for next year’s parliamentary elections and regional developments were discussed. Both agreed on the vital importance of regional stakeholders to work with the U.S. and other partners.

Tillerson held talks with President Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah and other U.S. and Afghan officials on Trump’s strategy for ending America’s longest war. He reaffirmed the U.S.-Afghan commitment to achieving peace, stability and long-term prosperity.

“We have made some very specific requests to Pakistan in order for them to take action to undermine the support the Taliban receive and other terrorist organizations receive,” he continued.

He explained the U.S. policy toward Islamabad “will be based upon whether they take action that we feel is necessary to move the process forward for both creating opportunity for reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan but also ensuring a stable future for Pakistan.”

President Ghani welcomed Tillerson and appreciated U.S. support and strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia. Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah said regional countries should cooperate on bringing about economic relief and peace to the region.

 

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