Underscoring a policy change that’s been speculated for awhile, the Trump Administration has issued orders to US diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Trump had previously ruled out talks with the Taliban, but officials have recently suggested support for the Ghani government’s attempts to start talks.
This comes amid reports of the administration considering a full strategy review for the Afghan War, as nearly a year after President Trump’s announced escalation, things are still going poorly. With no real chances for a military victory, officials are hoping to try to get back to the negotiating table.
Gen. John Nicholson followed this report out of the White House with a statement of his own, saying he is “ready” for direct talks with the Taliban in an effort to end the 17-year-long war. He says the US must have a “key role” in the talks.
President Ghani’s interest in trying to negotiate a settlement, with or without the US, likely reflects the reality that the war isn’t going well, and escalations aren’t making a difference. The White House may have decided that it would look better for them to at least take part in these talks, instead of the deal being made over their objections.