MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Top of the Agenda – U.S. Joint Chiefs Chairman Met With Taliban Officials

U.S. General Mark A. Milley met with Taliban negotiators in an unannounced visit on Tuesday to help facilitate a peace agreement between the Taliban and the U.S.-backed Afghan government. He also met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani yesterday.

It was Milley’s second time meeting (Defense One) with Taliban representatives. He is the first known chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to have met with the militant group, which the United States has been fighting for nearly twenty years. Milley told reporters traveling with him that during the meeting, he emphasized the need for reducing violence (AP), as the Taliban has continued attacks throughout Afghanistan despite ongoing peace negotiations with the Afghan government. However, a drawdown of U.S. troops continues as scheduled, Milley said. Since signing an agreement with the Taliban in February, the Donald J. Trump administration has withdrawn thousands of troops from Afghanistan. It announced last month that it would reduce U.S. troop levels to 2,500 by mid-January.

“As President Trump seeks to draw down US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, some have argued the decision is about bringing an end to America’s endless wars. But the real issue is how to create enduring stability. Now is an important time to talk not about endless war, but rather about lasting peace,” CFR’s Gayle Tzemach Lemmon writes for CNN.

“A final peace agreement and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces remain important priorities,” the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Seth G. Jones writes in a CFR report. “But Americans should be aware that peace negotiations will likely be long and difficult.”