Wanting to pave the way for negotiations to end the war in Afghanistan, the White House has directed top U.S. diplomats to seek direct talks with the Taliban, several American and Afghan officials told The New York Times.
The Taliban, which controls or has influence over 59 of Afghanistan's 407 districts, has long said it wants to first discuss peace with the United States, not the Afghan government, but the U.S. has always pushed back. There are about 15,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and the Taliban continues to regularly launch deadly attacks.
Over the last few weeks, several high-ranking American officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan to prepare for talks, with Pompeo briefly visiting Kabul and meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Catherine Garcia