After more than a year of sporadic contact, U.S.-Taliban talks have been stalled for months, deflating the Obama administration’s hopes that progress toward a political solution to the Afghan war would be well underway this spring.
President Obama, in a speech in Kabul last week, cited political reconciliation as one of the five pillars of his strategy to “complete our mission and end the war.” He said the administration was “in direct discussions” with the insurgents.
But senior administration officials acknowledged that there have been no meetings with Taliban interlocutors since January. The lack of progress was underscored by a rash of insurgent attacks in recent weeks and a Taliban statement last week announcing the inception of “the current year’s spring operation” against foreign military “occupiers” and anyone who assists them.
The administration had anticipated significant movement in the discussions by this month’s NATO summit in Chicago, where Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the alliance expect to set a course for the withdrawal of all U.S. and coalition combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.