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‘More time needed for peace negotiations’

KABUL: The U.S. Department of Defense has said that peace negotiations between Washington and the Taliban are ‘encouraging’ but need more time to culminate into a substantial result.

The U.S. acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan on Tuesday said the negotiators should be given time, describing the talks as encouraging. “Now we need to give the diplomats time and space to advance those conversations. I don’t think there’s any magic there, but it’s time and it’s space.”

He touted US-led coalition troops and Afghan National Security Forces for striving hard to stabilize Afghanistan.

Shanahan said there was no change to the US policy of “4R-plus-S plan — realign, reinforce, regionalize and reconcile”.

“I think that’s what we’re seeing now, the reconcile piece — and then, obviously, sustainment. I just emphasize no change to the 4Rs-plus-S,” the secretary told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday.

He said, “But one recent change had been discussions between Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban. Obviously, the State Department has the lead there, and we’re supporting.”

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