Mattis, Afghan Leaders Meet in Kabul


At least two Afghan police personnel were killed and two others injured after a suicide vehicle bombing struck a border police outpost in southern Helmand province on Wednesday, provincial government spokesman said.

He said security forces are battling the Taliban on three different fronts, and the insurgents have launched several attacks on checkpoints around the provincial capital.

Militants attacked a security checkpoint in Farah Province early on March 14, killing at least eight security forces and wounding a number of others, according to provincial council members.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Roland Kobia said the European Union was not in contact with the Taliban and urged those countries that were, including China, to talk to certain Taliban groups and mediate in the conflict, Efe reported. In a separate attack, a suicide blast claimed the lives of two border police personnel in Helmand province.

Mattis, a retired Marine general who commanded USA troops in southern Afghanistan in the opening weeks of the war in 2001, said getting the Taliban to reconcile en masse may be "a bridge too far".

Four members of the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's spy agency, and three police were killed, she added.

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The taunts follow a statement released late last week where the Taliban described the Afghan government as "illegitimate" and its peace process efforts as "deceptive".

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a surprise visit to Afghanistan's capital Tuesday with an interest in pursuing peace talks with the Afghan government.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month unveiled a plan to open talks to end the 16-year-old war, offering to negotiate with the Taliban without any preconditions. That would be a bridge too far.

The Taliban 's silence has provoked repeated calls for a direct response to Ghani's proposal made at an global conference in Kabul on February 28.

He defined victory in Afghanistan as a political settlement between the Taliban and the government, and an Afghan military that is capable of securing the country largely on its own.

The United States has refused to withdraw troops as demanded by the Taliban and has insisted that the Afghan government must play a lead role in peace negotiations.



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