Security personnel patrol near a park where a would-be attacker was killed in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, July 16, 2018. A would-be suicide attacker was shot and killed by police in Kabul before he was able to get close to a gathering of supporters of the country's first vice president, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, according to police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai. Dostum is currently in Turkey. (AP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

Officials: In policy shift, US open to meeting with Taliban

July 17, 2018 - 12:23 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration appears to be shifting tactics in Afghanistan, saying it's open to holding direct talks with the Taliban as a way of encouraging negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government.

U.S. officials say that an Afghan-to-Afghan negotiation remains the goal of any engagement with the Taliban. In the past, the Trump administration has only appeared willing to participate in discussions with the Taliban if the Afghan government was also involved.

For their part, the Taliban have long refused direct talks with the Afghan government, demanding instead to negotiate with Washington.

A Taliban official tells The Associated Press that no American official or intermediary has been in touch with them to start direct talks, and it has only heard of it in the media.