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Tillerson says room for Taliban in Afghan government

US secretary of state says the Taliban must understand that they will never win a military victory and should prepare to negotiate with the government

Gulf News

Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan: BAGRAM AIR BASE

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said yesterday there is a place for moderate elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s government as long as they renounce violence and terrorism and commit to stability. He also delivered a blunt warning to neighbouring Pakistan, insisting Islamabad must step up action against terrorist groups that have found safe haven within its borders.

Speaking on an unannounced trip to Afghanistan where he met Afghan President Ashraf Gani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other senior officials at Bagram Air Base north of Kabul, Tillerson said the Taliban must understand that they will never win a military victory and should prepare to negotiate with the government.

“Clearly, we have to continue to fight against the Taliban, against others, in order for them to understand they will never win a military victory,” Tillerson told a small group of reporters.

“And there are, we believe, moderate voices among the Taliban, voices that do not want to continue to fight forever. They don’t want their children to fight forever. So we are looking to engage with those voices and have them engage in a reconciliation process. There’s a place for them in the government if they are ready to come, renouncing terrorism, renouncing violence and being committed to a stable prosperous Afghanistan.”

Tillerson outlined to Gani and Abdullah the Trump administration’s new South Asia policy, which the president rolled out last month and views the region through a lens that includes Afghanistan as well as Pakistan and India, both of which he will visit later this week.

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