US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has said Washington is seeking a “good deal” with the Taliban after a wave of violence overshadowed its talks with the militant group.
“The United States’ view is that the best way forward is a political agreement and that (is what) we’re working diligently on right now, that doesn’t mean we’ll take any deal,” Esper said on Saturday during a press conference in Paris with his French counterpart.
“We will make sure we have a good deal, a good enough deal that guarantees at least the security of our countries going forward and a brighter path ahead for the Afghan people,” he stated.
Esper's remarks came after Washington and the militant group reached a draft peace agreement this week, which has been criticized by the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani.
Under the draft accord, thousands of US troops would be withdrawn over the coming months from Afghanistan. In exchange, the Taliban would guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militant attacks on the US and its allies.
This comes as Taliban militants launched fresh assaults in the western province of Farah on Friday.
The militants set the army center ablaze after a coordinated attack launched overnight from several points around Farah city, according to Mohibullah Mohib, a police spokesman in Farah.
"Taliban fighters are pushing to take over the prison but the security forces are resisting," Mohib said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties among either the Afghan forces or the militants.
The US agreement with the Taliban could lead to the gradual draw down of all of the almost 14,000 US troops in the country, fulfilling a campaign pledge of Trump. But Trump said recently that the United States will keep about 8,600 troops in Afghanistan even if Washington reaches an agreement with the Taliban.
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