USA detecting Taliban interest in Afghan peace talks: Mattis

Afghanistan: At least 10 security personnel killed in insurgent attack in Farah province

Mattis in Kabul To Seek 'Political Reconciliation' between Taliban and Afghan Government

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Roland Kobia said the European Union was not in contact with the Taliban and urged those countries that were, including China, to talk to certain Taliban groups and mediate in the conflict, Efe reported.

But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered talks without preconditions with the Taliban insurgents last month, in what was seen by USA officials as a major overture from Kabul.

This comes amid a growing push for the Taliban to consider the newest peace deal being offered by the Afghan President.

That's not going to involve major peace talks, however, as Mattis called that "a bridge too far", reflecting Trump's opposition to such talks with the Taliban. Secretary Mattis offered his full support to the Afghan-led reconciliation process, aimed at achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.

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Mattis said he had seen some positive indications from Islamabad, noting some Pakistani military operations along the border.

U.S. Army Brigadier General Michael Fenzel, a top coalition official, said he interpreted the Taliban's silence as a positive signal that the Taliban were considering Ghani's offer.

Thanks to the political process, Mattis said America was now looking towards victory in Afghanistan after more than 16 years of conflict. He said another three police were wounded in the blast.

Defense Secretary James Mattis made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday, arriving at the Kabul Airport with little fanfare before offering rare public comments on the Afghan War.

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The U.S. has stepped up assistance to the Afghan military and greatly increased air strikes against the Taliban as part of its new regional strategy announced in 2017, in a bid to break the stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Before landing in the Afghan capital, Mattis told reporters that the United States was picking up signs of interest from groups of Taliban fighters in exploring the possibility of talks to end the violence.

"It has forced every actor to re-examine their assumptions". "The victory will be a political reconciliation". "Some of that re-examination is likely to lead to the intensification of conflict in the short term but the re-examination is what the people of Afghanistan have been waiting for 40 years", he said.

Trump has made no secret of anger toward Pakistan or his pessimism about Taliban peace talks, declaring on January 29 after a series of Taliban attacks in Afghanistan: "I don't see any talking taking place".

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During the meeting, Mattis emphasised that the peace offer does not eliminate the need for offensive operations against the Taliban, and noted the importance of continued Afghan National Defense and Security Forces progress on the battlefield.

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