The United States and the Taliban are reported to be in the early stages of discussions for the first time since 2012. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Christopher Kolenda, who fought in Afghanistan and later served as a senior Pentagon adviser, was instrumental in helping set up those talks — in part through his own discussion with Taliban officials in Qatar. He spoke with VOA’s William Gallo about where he sees the peace process going, especially in light of a recent surge in violence. This interview was condensed for clarity.
William Gallo: How would you characterize the current U.S.-Taliban talks?
Christopher Kolenda: We’ve had a situation in which each of the three main parties — the Afghan government, the Taliban, and the United States — have all been wanting talks but have put conditions on starting talks that the other side can’t meet.
So this effort for a conversation between the U.S. government and the Taliban, which has happened in full coordination with the Afghan government, is meant as an icebreaker to lead to a negotiating process in which the Taliban and the Afghan government begin discussions about the political future of Afghanistan. Because only Afghans can solve that.
Gallo: Is there any indication these talks have moved into more advanced stages?
Kolenda: Not to my knowledge. It seems there was a discussion and then things are on hold a bit. There’s rumored to be another round of U.S.-Taliban talks in Doha in early September.
Read the Full Interview at Voice of America