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BANGKOK 21 March 2019 19:07
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U.S. general says remarks on Afghan peace talks 'mischaracterised'

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U.S. general says remarks on Afghan peace talks 'mischaracterised'

 

2018-07-17T030109Z_1_LYNXMPEE6G04T_RTROPTP_3_AFGHANISTAN-DRUGS.JPG

U.S. Army General John Nicholson, Commander of Resolute Support forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan November 20, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/Files

 

KABUL (Reuters) - The NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan on Tuesday rejected reports its commander General John Nicholson had said the United States was ready to join direct negotiations with the Taliban, saying his comments were "mischaracterised".

 

In a statement, it referred to reports on Monday in which Nicholson reiterated comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the possibility of talks with the Taliban involving the United States.

 

"The United States is not a substitute for the Afghan people or the Afghan government," Nicholson said in a statement.

 

"My reaffirmation of Secretary Pompeo's statement in which he said peace talks would include a discussion of international forces and that the United States is ready to work with the Taliban, the Afghan government and the Afghan people towards lasting peace was mischaracterised," he said.

 

The Taliban have rejected talks with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which they see as illegitimate and instead insisted they would only talk with the United States.

 

In his comments on Monday, Nicholson said the United States recognised it had an important role to play in the peace process.

"Our Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo, has said that we, the United States, are ready to talk to the Taliban and discuss the role of international forces," he said. "We hope that they realise this and that this will help to move forward the peace process."

 

The remarks come amid growing speculation about moves to open talks with the Taliban following an unprecedented three-day ceasefire during last month's Eid holiday.

 

Last month, Pompeo said the United States was ready to "support, facilitate and participate" in discussions with the Taliban over the role of international forces in Afghanistan but that the peace process would be Afghan-led.

 

(Reporting by James Mackenzie. Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

 
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-- © Copyright Reuters 2018-07-17

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5 hours ago, webfact said:

Nicholson reiterated comments by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the possibility of talks with the Taliban involving the United States.

Curious as Nicholson's chain of command is through the Secretary of Defense Mattis, not the Secretary of State. If there needs to be any clarification regarding the US military mission in Afghanistan, it should be coming through Mattis. 

 

5 hours ago, webfact said:

"Our Secretary of State, Mr Pompeo, has said that we, the United States, are ready to talk to the Taliban and discuss the role of international forces,"

The US diplomatic mission that is a function of the State Department I would expect to lead talks in part with other NATO and Afghanistan diplomatic leadership with the Taliban with assistance from the military. But Nicholson's reaffirmation of Secretary Pompeo's statement sounds like Nicholson may have gotten ahead of the peace talks process by taking the lead himself whereas he shouldn't have.

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Any agreement by the US to broker a peace deal that would see the US leave Afghanistan with the Taliban in any sort of power position would, IMO, be akin to putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop. That would make a mockery of all the allied deaths and loss of treasure.

While it was a ghastly mistake for the Allies to remain in Afghanistan after routing the Taliban at the start, so that girls could go to school or something, to abandon it to the Taliban now would be an even more ghastly mistake for the people of Afghanistan that thought they had hopes of a civilised future.

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