The U.S. remains unwilling to support direct talks with all the Taliban, nevertheless the prospects for peace have risen as the recent take up a cease-fire in Afghanistan, a senior State Department official told lawmakers Wednesday.
“After in excess of 16 plenty of war, we perceive a genuine opportunity this coming year to begin an Afghan peace procedure that may lead to a double settlement inside the conflict,” Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells told members from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The Taliban along with the Afghan government announced a three-day cease-fire to fund the Eid al-Fitr holiday. While the pause to fight featured positive signs, the cease-fire deal ended Sunday night, as well as on Wednesday, a Taliban attack killed around 30 Afghan soldiers, as outlined by local media reports.
Although Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has generated jump-starting the peace process in Afghanistan a heightened priority, the administration has resisted direct talks need to be Afghan sovereignty and positioned itself as being a participant and facilitator.
Wells seized on reports of Taliban and Afghan forces praying together within the cease-fire like a sign of positive movement.
“If Afghan troops and Taliban foot-soldiers can pray together, then a Afghan everyone has every reason to consider that their leaders comes together and negotiate a finish just for this war,” she said.
That cautiously optimistic take drew skepticism originating from a few members committee, who questioned whether or not the White House could break the stalemate and force the Taliban on the negotiating table.
Wells said the issues involved “have being negotiated with Afghans instead of in the heads of Afghans,” and that the Taliban must recognize the Afghan government.
The comments come every day after Army Lt. Gen. Austin Scott Miller, nominated to ensure success Army Gen. John Nicholson leading the American and NATO mission in Afghanistan told lawmakers he sees progress inside the ongoing fight as a result of recent alterations in military strategy there.
Wells weathered sharp questioning from both Democrats and Republicans, including Reps. Dana Rohrabacher, of California, and Ted Poe, of Texas, for whom skepticism toward Pakistan was one theme.
Republicans also questioned the assumptions and charges behind U.S. nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, in addition to the administration’s “conditions-based” versus a “timeline-based” strategy.
“I understand that alarming that we now have a massive array out soon,” Poe said.
“President Trump has become specific that we aren’t inside nation building business,” Wells replied, adding that, “We’re forget about giving the Taliban the posh of knowing if your United States will leave.”
But the panel’s top Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel, of New York, questioned why the tough line on direct talks.