The Afghan government is willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a potential ceasefire agreement with the Islamist militant group, President Ashraf Ghani said Wednesday.
The announcement made at the start of an international conference in Kabul, could represent a significant significant shift in Afghanistan's policy toward the group. Just last month, US President Donald Trump said Washington was not ready to talk to the Taliban.
Ghani also offered to reintegrate and help remove sanctions against Taliban members who engage in peace talks, denounce violence, recognize the Afghan government and respect the rule of law.
The Taliban has been waging a bitter fight in Afghanistan with the ultimate goal of ruling the country and imposing its strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The group controlled Afghanistan until 2001, when it was overthrown by the US-led coalition that invaded the country following the 9/11 attacks.
In recent years, a resurgent Taliban has taken control of significant swaths of the country. Brazen terror attacks have even shaken the resolve of those who live in the heavily secured capital, Kabul. The situation has deteriorated to the point where US former General Stanley McChrystal, writing in Foreign Affairs with Kosh Sadat, said the country "is struggling to survive" and the Taliban's "presence and influence are likely at their highest levels since the group lost power."
The conflict has dragged on for 16 years, making it the longest foreign war the United States has been involved in.
As a candidate, Trump vowed to draw down the US presence in Afghanistan. But as President, he's given the Pentagon more autonomy, including the authority to increase troop levels.