America ‘not winning’ in Afghanistan: Pentagon Chief

Ghani’s office says China seeks to mediate between Kabul,Islamabad

Washington/Kabul

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Tuesday warned lawmakers that the Taliban is surging in Afghanistan, and said America is “not winning” in the country. The “Taliban had a good year last year, they are trying to have a good one this year,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Right now I believe the enemy is surging.” Lawmakers repeatedly asked Mattis for an update on Afghanistan and sought reassurance that America would be able to effectively help Afghan partners reverse a stalemate against the resurgent Taliban. Mattis said he expected to present a revised strategy by mid-July. He is believed to be mulling sending an additional 3,000 to 5,000 US troops. “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. We will correct this as soon as possible,” he said. The Afghan conflict is the longest in American history, with US-led NATO troops at war there since 2001, after the ousting of the Taliban regime. The ongoing security crisis has seen not just the Taliban gain ground, but also the emergence of other groups such as a local Daesh affiliate. Meanwhile, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office said in statement on Monday that China has expressed a desire to take on a role as mediator between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is scheduled to visit Kabul soon where he will meet Afghan officials to discuss ways to improve Afghanistan-Pakistan relations” the statement said.
It added that the Chinese foreign minister would work to discuss the possibility of setting up a meeting between the four members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee — Afghanistan, Pakistan, US and China.
The four-nation group was formed in January 2016 for reconciliation in Afghanistan through the direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“It is the first time that China wants to be a mediator in Afghanistan’s peace process and soon the Chinese Foreign Minister will visit Kabul. Peace with Pakistan was our demand and this must be solved between government and government,” Ghani said, according to the statement.—AFP/ TOLO News

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