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United States detecting Taliban interest in Afghan peace talks: Mattis

United States detecting Taliban interest in Afghan peace talks: Mattis”

Mattis, however, said that while the U.S. tries to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table with the Afghan government, it will still ramp up the military pressure on it.

US President Donald Trump has once against highlighted the need for the US military to win the war against Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

"There have been changes in Pakistan's behaviour (since the South Asia strategy was announced)", Mattis told reporters travelling with him to Afghanistan, according to the transcripts released by the US Department of Defense.

"But Defense Department and intelligence officials now say exactly that may be on the verge of happening", proclaims the New York Times (NYT).

Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unveiled a plan to open talks to end the 16-year war, offering to negotiate with the Taliban without any preconditions.

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The Taliban have seized a number of districts across the country in recent years, expanding their footprint after U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014.

Mattis said the jump in attacks on civilians was an indication that a pressured Taliban is unable to conduct broader, ground-taking operations.

Alluding to Trump's Afghan war strategy unveiled in August 2017, Nicolson said late a year ago, "In the face of this pressure, the Taliban can not win".

The insurgents have so far given no formal response to Kabul´s offer for negotiations, but Mattis said some Taliban leaders have expressed an interest in the discussions.

This comes amid a growing push for the Taliban to consider the newest peace deal being offered by the Afghan President. That would be a bridge too far. Mattis said the U.S. has seen "interest" in such talks.

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Afghanistan experts have long anxious that a precipitous US exit could usher in defeat for the Afghan army.

There have been changes in Pakistan's behaviour with respect to fight against terrorism after President Donald Trump blasted Islamabad for providing safe havens to militants and suspended more than Dollars 1 billion security aid to the country, a top American official has said.

A February 24 raid on an army base in the same district killed at least 18 soldiers, officials said, in one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent months.

Referring to the U.S. -NATO coalition, Gen. Ashley also warned that al-Qaeda had "retained the intent and limited capability to threaten coalition and Afghan forces and interests in the region".

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