WASHINGTON, July 16 (Sputnik) – The United States is not ready to join direct negotiations with the Taliban despite media reports to the contrary, US Operation Resolute Support said in a press release on Monday.
“Resolute Support refutes reports by the media that the Resolute Support commander said the US is ready to join direct negotiations with the Taliban during a visit with Afghan provincial and government representatives in Kandahar, July 16,” the release said.
In the release, Resolute Support Commander US Army General John Nicholson said his “reaffirmation” of a statement first made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been “mischaracterized.”
Pompeo on June 16 welcomed the Afghan government’s announcement of a ceasefire with the Taliban and said the US was prepared to facilitate discussions.
But Monday’s release from Resolute Support emphasized that the negotiations are an Afghan-led process.
“The US is exploring all avenues to advance a peace process in close consultation with the Afghan government,” Resolute Support spokesman US Army Lt. Col. Martin L. O’Donnell said in the release. “But this remains an Afghan-led process.”
The security situation in Afghanistan has been unstable for years as the government continues to fight Taliban militants for control of the state. A number of terrorist groups have been operating in the country, further complicating the situation.
The United States has had forces deployed in Afghanistan for years, and the Taliban has been calling for a halt to the US military presence in the country.