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US think-tank stresses direct Kabul-Taliban talks

US think-tank stresses direct Kabul-Taliban talks

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May 23, 2017 - 09:04

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The Trump administration, as it continues to strengthen the Afghan state and its security forces, has been asked to pressure Kabul to prioritise reaching a political settlement with the Talibaninfo-icon.

In its latest report, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace urged the US to empower its ambassador in Kabul to oversee the administration's overall strategy in Afghanistaninfo-icon.

The think-tank said the US should persuade the Afghan government to begin a serious national dialogue on political reconciliation, engage in direct talks with the Taliban.

It also suggested targeting the Taliban shurainfo-icon, if necessary, and inducing Rawalpindi to constrain the Taliban's sanctuary in Pakistaninfo-icon and secure regional support for a political settlement in Afghanistan.

The report said it was wrong to view the conflict as a consequence of the India-Pakistan rivalry --- one that cannot be solved without first engineering a rapprochement between New Delhi and Islamabad

"The US ought to invest in achieving a permanent South Asian peace (as Richard Holbrooke, the former US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, had originally intended)," the report added.

But such a solution is misconceived and too difficult to achieve in the short term in ways that would improve the current trajectory of the conflict in Afghanistan, the think-tank continued.

Authored by Ashley Tellis and Jeff Eggers, the policy paper said another version of the option was the concept of regional neutrality, wherein Afghanistan gradually walked out of its security-based partnerships in favour of implementing a cooperative security agreement signed by all neighbours and near-neighbours.

"This solution, however, is more implausible than it initially appears, as Kabul--without assistance from Washington--would have difficulty enforcing such an agreement if it were violated by one or more of Afghanistan's neighbours," the experts wrote.

Eggers and Tellis saidL "Regional options--resolving the India-Pakistan conflict, creating a neutral Afghanistan, or squeezing Pakistan--are too difficult to rely on alone."

Yjey went on to warn that unilateral options -- either pursuing major escalation or a complete disengagement -- were equally implausible because of their high costs and risks. 

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