By Rebecca Kheel *
The top general in the U.S. military met with Taliban negotiators in Qatar this week in a bid to reduce violence in Afghanistan, his office said Thursday.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and State Department representatives met with Taliban representatives in Doha “as part of the military channel established in the U.S.-Taliban agreement,” his spokesperson, Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty, said in a statement.
“The chairman discussed the need for an immediate reduction of violence and accelerate progress towards a negotiated political solution which contributes to regional stability and safeguards U.S. national interests,” Flaherty added.
The Tuesday meeting was actually Milley’s second with the Taliban, according to the Associated Press, one of three news outlets traveling with him. The first, previously undisclosed meeting happened in June in Doha.
No breakthrough was reported Thursday, but the top U.S. general meeting face-to-face with insurgents the United States has been fighting for 19 years is heavy with symbolism as America seeks to wind down its longest war. Milley himself served three tours of duty in Afghanistan.
After the latest Taliban meeting, Milley flew to Afghanistan and met with President Ashraf Ghani.
Milley and Ghani “discussed the current security environment in Afghanistan,” Flaherty said in a separate statement. “The United States remains fully committed to helping Afghans create a secure and stable Afghanistan by supporting inclusive efforts to achieve peace.”
The U.S. military is in the process of fulfilling President Trump’s order to draw down to 2,500 troops in the country by Jan. 15, days before he is set to leave office.