WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Thursday estimated that more than half of Taliban insurgents could be open to peace talks with the Afghan government.
"The estimates I've heard, both from an Afghan perspective and probably from the intel community, is anywhere between 60 and 70 percent (that are) potentially reconcilable on the Taliban side," Gen. John F. Campbell told the House Armed Services Committee.
But he added that the Haqqani network, which has been responsible for many attacks on U.S.-led coalition forces and suicide bombings, as well as remnants of the al-Qaida network in in Afghanistan probably are not reconcilable.
Campbell also made the case for more U.S. forces to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2016, when President Barack Obama wants to draw the force down to about 1,000 troops.
Campbell said 1,300 of the 9,800 American service men and women in Afghanistan are involved in everyday training, assisting and advising of Afghan national security forces, but only about 500 are operating outside of Kabul.
He said drawing the force down to 1,000 by the end of next year will limit coalition training and counterterrorism operations.
"If we came down to 1,000 — there is no counterterrorism structured force in those numbers," Campbell said.