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US Army chief of staff makes surprise stop in Kabul

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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The U.S. Army’s chief of staff made a surprise visit to the Afghanistan’s capital, where he met President Ashraf Ghani to discuss prospects for a peaceful end to the country’s 17-year war, the United States’ longest.

In a statement late Thursday, Ghani’s office said Gen. Mark A. Milley supported Afghan-led talks with the Taliban, although the burden of getting the two sides to the table seems to have fallen to Washington’s newly appointed peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad has met several times with Taliban insurgents since his appointment in September. They have consistently refused direct talks with Ghani’s representatives, calling the Kabul government U.S. puppets.

Another round of U.S.-Taliban talks is reportedly scheduled for later this month in Doha, Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office.

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This story has been updated to correct Milley’s first name to Mark.

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