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Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday that the Taliban "are not losing" in Afghanistan, and much more needs to be done to bring peace to the war-torn country, according to a CNN report.
"They are not losing right now, I think that is fair to say," Dunford said of the Taliban during a discussion at a security forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. "We used the term stalemate a year ago and, relatively speaking, it has not changed much."
He says that while there would never be a "military solution" on its own to bring peace to Afghanistan, the United States and its NATO partners are working to leverage military, political and economic pressure to convince the Taliban it is in their interest to negotiate a political solution to the crisis with the government in Kabul.
"Without going into detail here, we do believe the Taliban know that at some point they do have to reconcile," he said. "The key to success is to combine all that pressure to incentivize the Taliban" to negotiate.
While Dunford said recent elections in Afghanistan were "largely successful" and noted the importance of next year's presidential election, he added, "I think we are a long way," from being able to say that point of reconciliation with the Taliban has been reached.
This comes after the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad this week started his second round of talks over the Afghan peace process. Reports indicate that Khalilzad has returned to Kabul on Saturday after finishing his meeting with Afghan officials, and United Arab Emirates and Saudi officials in Abu Dhabi. He also held two-day talks with Taliban representatives in Doha.