Top diplomatic officials for the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan met today in Islamabad to discuss ways to once again attempt to restart talks with the Taliban, which have been stalled since last month.
According to US Special Representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman, the US was keen to see the talks start, but only if the Taliban were willing to “lay down their arms and abide by Afghanistan’s constitution” first.
Issuing new demands seems like an odd approach, since the US was seemingly desperate to get the Qatar-based talks going, and they presumably still would have been were it not for last month’s Kandahar massacre by a US soldier, after which the Taliban announced that they simply couldn’t justify continuing to talk with the “erratic” US.
At the time the talks were entirely unilateral, between the US and the Taliban, and Afghan and Pakistani officials were trying unsuccessfully to get a second track of negotiation going. The fact that they are all united now suggests that the US needs some diplomatic cover in courting the Taliban after the past few months of disasters on the ground.