(From AP News)
The United States is open to holding direct talks with the Taliban to encourage negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government to end 17 years of war, U.S. officials said.
That marks a tactical shift by the Trump administration, which has previously only appeared willing to participate in discussions with the Taliban if those talks also involve the Afghan government. The U.S. officials said Monday that Afghan-to-Afghan negotiation remains the goal of any engagement with the militants.
The officials were not authorized to speak to media and requested anonymity.
The Taliban have long refused direct talks with the Afghan government, demanding instead to negotiate with Washington. The militants have persisted in that stance despite Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s unilateral extension of a holiday cease-fire last month in hopes of encouraging the militants to come to the bargaining table. With the Taliban continuing to mount deadly attacks, Ghani ordered government forces to resume military operations this month.