WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump Monday left the door open to an eventual political deal with the Taliban, in an address on America’s news strategy in the 16-year Afghan conflict.
“Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan,” he said.
“But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,” he added, before vowing that “America will continue its support for the Afghan government and military as they confront the Taliban in the field.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Trump’s decision to pressure Pakistan and step up military operations in Afghanistan could help US diplomats build towards a political solution.
“Our new strategy breaks from previous approaches that set artificial calendar-based deadlines,” said Tillerson, in a statement issued after he attended Trump’s speech.
“We are making clear to the Taliban that they will not win on the battlefield. The Taliban has a path to peace and political legitimacy through a negotiated political settlement to end the war,” Tillerson added. “We stand ready to support peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban without preconditions. “We look to the international community, particularly Afghanistan’s neighbors, to join us in supporting an Afghan peace process.”