General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Army, held unannounced talks with the Taliban in Doha on Tuesday, as reported by Associated Press (AP). This marks the first time a top military officer has stepped into the peace talks currently underway between the US and the Taliban in Qatar.
A day after the two-hour long talk in Doha, Gen Milley flew to Kabul for discussion on the peace process with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“The most important part of the discussions that I had with both the Taliban and the government of Afghanistan was the need for an immediate reduction in violence,” Milley told three reporters, including one from the AP, who accompanied him to Qatar and Afghanistan. “Everything else hinges on that.”
This was Milley’s second unannounced meeting with Taliban negotiators. The first had taken place in June, also in Doha, and had not been reported until now, said the AP.
Gen Milley also met with the Afghan Chief of Army Staff Gen Mohammad Yasin Zia along with other Afghan officials.
Additionally, Gen Scott Miller, the top commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, said in an interview in Kabul on Wednesday that the Taliban have stepped up attacks on Afghan forces, particularly in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, and against roadways and other infrastructure, the AP reported. Miller holds monthly meetings with Taliban negotiators as part of the US peace efforts in Afghanistan.