Pskai said it was also the US position that “an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is the surest way to end violence.”
“Through a not very well-orchestrated 24 hours, we’ve now reached the point where our side, the party that we support, the internationally legitimate Afghan government has now gone on the defensive,” Riedel said.
And while the Taliban in a statement said it would not allow anyone to attack other countries from Afghan soil, that fell far short of publicly breaking with al-Qaeda — long a US condition for any peace settlement.
Riedel said if this condition was “jettisoned” the perception was that the US might also accept other concessions.
Washington does have an interest in speaking to the Taliban too — notably to secure the release of US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, captured on June 30, 2009.
The Taliban is also likely to want back several of its members held in the Guantanamo Bay military jail in southern Cuba.
“While getting our soldier home is a good thing, this is nothing to do with peace in Afghanistan,” Riedel said. “If the prize is peace in Afghanistan it’s got to become a process in which Afghans talk to Afghans, and Karzai has said he’s not going to talk.”