US and Afghan officials are inching closer toward meaningful negotiations with the Taliban, according to the US Ambassador in Kabul, Ryan Crocker.
"After 10 years in the wilderness, I would expect more than a few of them would like to try something different," Crocker told host Marco Werman from the US Embassy in Kabul.
Crocker's optimism comes despite roadblocks to the negotiations thrown up by Pakistan. Officials in Islamabad on Wednesday turned down a request by U.S. special envoy Marc Grossman to visit Pakistan. Grossman, the special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan is handling the reconciliation effort. Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been especially tense since a NATO cross-border air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on Nov. 26.
Many analysts are skeptical that the talks can move forward without Pakistan's approval.
Crocker told Werman that sitting down with the Taliban does not mean giving in to their demands.
" This is hardly conceding the field to the enemy. It's going to require an adversary to make some pretty tough choices as to whether they want to be part of a new Afghan society on Afghan government terms," Crocker said.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. Americans troops toppled the Sunni Islamist group after the September 11th attacks.