February 5, 2019 / 3:45 PM / 7 months ago

Talks with Taliban in 'very, very early' stages: U.S. general

U.S. Army General Joseph Votel, commander of the U.S. Central Command, testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. general said on Tuesday that talks between the United States and Taliban were in their “very, very early” stages and the Afghan government, so far excluded from talks, would have to be part of the solution.

“I would characterize where we are in the process as very, very early in the process,” U.S. General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. military’s Central Command, told a Senate hearing.

“We clearly recognize that they (Afghan government) have to be a part of this solution and must be in the negotiation aspects of this, we can’t do that on their behalf.”

Votel also said that the United States would need to continue to support Afghan security forces financially even if U.S. troops withdrew from Afghanistan.

Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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