US Sees Place for ‘Moderate’ Taliban in Afghan Government – Tillerson
AP Photo/ Allauddin KhanMiddle East20:55 23.10.2017(updated 00:12 24.10.2017) Get short URL
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was on an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, has shed light on Washington’s stance on the Taliban’s role in settling the crisis in the country.
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters during an unannounced trip to Afghanistan on Monday that Washington thinks that moderate elements among the Taliban exist and they can be part of the country’s government.
“There are, we believe, moderate voices among the Taliban, voices that do not want to continue to fight forever,” Tillerson said. “So we are looking to engage with those voices and have them engage in a reconciliation process leading to a peace process and their full involvement and participation in the government. There’s a place for them in the government if they’re ready to come renouncing terrorism, renouncing violence and being committed to a stable, prosperous Afghanistan.”
Tillerson pointed out, however, that the fight against the Taliban should continue “in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory.”
In August, US President Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy in which he pledged to continue US support for the Afghan government and military. As part of the plan, Trump ordered to expand the authority of US troops to target terrorists in Afghanistan and approved sending an additional 4,000 troops to the country.
Afghanistan has long suffered political, social and security-related instability as a result of activities carried out by Daesh and the Taliban.
According to UN Security Council resolutions, the Taliban may sit at the negotiations table if they break off their ties with terrorists, cease their armed struggle and affirm their respect for the Afghan Constitution.
On Russia and the Taliban
The statement by the US secretary of state comes the same day Moscow has reacted to an Afghan media report citing the country’s president, who claimed during his recent visit to Paktia province that Russia allegedly supports the Taliban. “We consider inadmissible such statements made by the head of friendly Afghanistan,” Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The Russian ministry has called on the Afghan leadership not to follow blindly the anti-Russian hysteria hyped up in some Western media.
Previously, several US officials, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, accused Russia of allegedly supporting the Taliban. However, Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that there is no evidence Russia had transferred weapons or money to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Moscow has repeatedly denounced the claims, with the Kremlin saying that these accusations are made to cover up US failures in Afghanistan and noted that it maintains contact with the terrorist group only to promote peace talks.
According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who called accusations from the United States that it is supplying the Taliban with weapons baseless and unprofessional, Moscow is only working with the Taliban in order to assist in the implementation of a UN Security Council decision requested by the Afghan government that would allow the group to take a role in the political process.