Top US diplomats visited Pakistan in a shift in Afghanistan war strategy

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Top US diplomats visited Pakistan in a shift in Afghanistan war strategy

ISLAMABAD - Senior US officials have been in Pakistan and Afghanistan recently and held talks with major players in both countries in preparation for direct talks with Taliban, according to The New York Times.

A report in a leading US newspaper says President Donald Trump has instructed “top diplomats” to pursue “direct talks” with the Taliban in an effort to “jump-start” negotiations with the militant group in the hope of bringing an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The *New York Times* said Sunday the move represents a “significant shift in American policy in Afghanistan”.

The move has been confirmed by “several senior American and Afghan officials,” according to the newspaper.

The report said there is a growing “consensus” among American and Afghan officials that the only way to “fire up a peace process” and come to an agreement on an exit strategy for the war “is for the United States to take a more direct role in negotiations”.

The Taliban has often insisted that it will only talk with the United States and its NATO allies about ending the fighting, calling the Afghan government a puppet of the West.

The* Times* said no date has been set for the talks and peace efforts could still be derailed, but the shift in US strategy exposes the “sense of urgency” the Trump administration feels “to break the stalemate in Afghanistan”.