Few US voters hopeful about Afghan peace talks, poll shows


By J.P. LAWRENCE | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 24, 2020

Just under a third of U.S. voters believe peace negotiations with the Taliban will bring the war in Afghanistan to a satisfactory end, a poll released Thursday said.

Around 79% of respondents said current negotiations are unlikely or not at all likely to end the war in a satisfactory way, said the poll, conducted by the California-based firm Rasmussen Reports, which polled 1,000 likely voters over the phone and online earlier this week. The poll had a 3% margin of error.

Another poll released Thursday found a third of Afghans believe U.S. troops should remain in the country even after a peace deal, while 46% want U.S. and NATO troops out.

The survey by the Institute of War and Peace Studies, a Kabul think tank, polled 5,038 Afghans in 34 provinces during November and December, and had a 5% margin of error.

The Taliban want a peace deal to include the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The U.S. is seeking a promise from the insurgent group that it will not provide safe haven to international terror groups and will include the internationally recognized government in Kabul in peace negotiations.

The Taliban said last week they are offering a temporary cease-fire of up to 10 days as part of negotiations, The Associated Press reported.

President Donald Trump wants a significant drop in violence by the Taliban before the next phase of negotiations, the White House said in a statement after Trump met with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland.

Afghanistan is ready for the withdrawal of as many as 4,000 U.S. troops, Ghani said in Davos on Thursday.

Taliban attacks increased slightly from June to October of last year compared to the previous year, though it still does not control any major population centers, a Pentagon report released Friday said.

The United States maintains approximately 13,000 military personnel in Afghanistan supporting missions to train and advise Afghan forces and to conduct counterterrorism operations, the report said.

Twitter: @jplawrence3


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