A report in a leading U.S. newspaper says President Donald Trump has instructed “top diplomats” to pursue “direct talks” with the Taliban in an effort to “jump-start” negotiations with the militant group in the hope of bringing an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan.
The New York Times said Sunday the move represents a “significant shift in American policy in Afghanistan.”
The move has been confirmed by “several senior American and Afghan officials,” according to the newspaper.
Senior U.S. officials have been in Afghanistan and Pakistan recently, The newspaper says they were “holding talks with major players” in both countries in preparation for direct talks.
The report said there is a growing “consensus” among American and Afghan officials that the only way to “fire up a peace process” and come to an agreement on an exit strategy for the war “is for the United States to take a more direct role in negotiations.”
The Taliban has often insisted that it will only talk with the United States and it’s NATO allies about ending the fighting, calling the Afghan government a puppet of the West.
The Times said no date has been set for the talks and peace efforts could still be derailed, but the shift in U.S. strategy exposes the “sense of urgency” the Trump administration feels “to break the stalemate in Afghanistan.”