Afghanistan's Taliban militia says peace talks have started with the US. Picture: AFP
Afghanistan's Taliban militia says peace talks have started with the US. Picture: AFP

Taliban ‘in peace talks’ with US

A SENIOR Taliban official says the insurgent group has held the first direct talks with a US official in a preliminary discussion about future plans for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan.

This week's meeting with Alice Wells, the US's top diplomat for South Asia, was an attempt to jump-start talks on ending Washington's longest military engagement, a senior Taliban official said.

US officials neither confirmed nor denied a meeting took place but it would mark a significant development in ending the country's protracted war.

Ms Wells was in Doha, the Qatar capital, this week.

 

Alice Wells, the US's top diplomat for South Asia. Picture: AP
Alice Wells, the US's top diplomat for South Asia. Picture: AP

 

The State Department said only that Ms Wells had been in Doha, had met with the ruling family and "the United States is exploring all avenues to advance a peace process in close consultation with the Afghan Government".

The Taliban have long demanded direct talks with Washington.

"The discussion was preliminary, initial and both discussed a future meeting and contacts," said the official on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

 

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, speaks during, a press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Picture: AP
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, right, speaks during, a press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Picture: AP

It wasn't clear when the next meeting would be held or with whom, but he was certain one would be held.

There are about 15,000 US and NATO troops still in Afghanistan.