Insurgent attack kills 10 Afghan security forces

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The Taliban is "well resourced" by its narcotics trafficking efforts, so U.S. aircraft are targeting their production and storage locations and working with other countries in the region to limit the flow of drugs out of Afghanistan, he said.

"My perception of what is going on inside the Taliban is they are exhausted of this war as well, they'd like to return home, they'd like to rejoin society and, just like the people of this country, would like to see the end of this war as would all of us", Nicholson said.

In recent days, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered the Taliban a ceasefire and political power as part of what some analysts have described as unprecedented USA -backed peace negotiations. Mattis focused on what "victory" would look like, and offered a glimpse into USA strategy for achieving it.

Days after his tweet, the U.S. suspended over United States dollars 1.15 billion in security aid and the delivery of military equipment to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups.

The U. S.is picking up signs of interest from Taliban elements in exploring the possibility of talks with Kabul to end the more than 16-year-old war, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday as he made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan.

Mattis said he had seen some positive indications from Islamabad, noting some Pakistani military operations along the border. "And then go back and talk with our intelligence agencies in Washington, DC, and put together an assessment of this", Mattis said.

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"So this really is probably their best time to attempt a negotiation, because it's only going to get worse for them", he added, as both sides prepare for the start of what is expected to be an intense spring fighting season.

"It may not be that the whole Taliban comes over in one fell swoop". That would be a bridge too far right now to expect.

"We want the Afghans to lead and provide the substance to the reconciliation effort", Mattis said.

Farah is a poppy-growing province in a hard to reach part of Afghanistan which a section of the multi-billion-dollar TAPI gas pipeline will traverse. "It has forced every actor to re-examine their assumptions", Ghani said as he met with Mattis at Kabul's presidential palace. "But there are elements of the Taliban clearly interested in talking to the Afghan government", he said. "Secretary Mattis offered his full support to the Afghan-led reconciliation process, aimed at achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan", White said.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but the Taliban has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack in Helmand.

"The two leaders also reinforced that the recent Taliban peace offer without preconditions was genuine, and they are ready to embrace all who are willing to reconcile", White said.

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