US open to direct talks with Taliban, officials say

WASHINGTON (AP) – Officials say the U.S. is open to holding direct talks with the Taliban to encourage negotiations between the militant group and the Afghan government to end 17 years of war.

That marks a tactical shift by the Trump administration. It has previously only appeared willing to participate in discussions with the Taliban if those talks also involve the Afghan government.

The U.S. officials say that Afghan-to-Afghan negotiation remains the goal of any engagement with the militants. The officials are not authorized to speak to media and requested anonymity.

The Taliban have long demanded to negotiate with Washington rather than Kabul.

A Taliban official in Qatar told The Associated Press on Monday that no American official or intermediary has been in touch with them to start direct talks.