Germany's foreign minister has said the Taliban must be negotiated with to find a political solution to the situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban controls or influences 40 percent of the country.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel has called for peace talks with the Taliban after a wave of terror attacks in the Afghan capital over the past week left more than 100 people dead and many more wounded.
"One doesn't make peace with friends, rather with enemies,” Gabriel told the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday, saying the Taliban must be negotiated with in order to find a political solution in Afghanistan.
The radical Islamist movement, made up largely ethnic Pashtuns, still controls or influences nearly 40 percent of the country, proving their resiliency 16 years after a US-led invasion of the country.
NATO-backed Afghan forces - plagued by corruption, desertion and "ghost soldiers" - have struggled to maintain security since most international forces pulled out the country nearly two years ago.
The fragile state of security was highlighted this week by a terror attack on the heavily fortified diplomatic quarters in Kabul, killing more than 90 people, wounding more and damaging buildings, including the German embassy.
It was followed on Saturday by another bombing that killed seven people and wounding dozens at a funeral of a prominent anti-government protester.
In response to the recent wave of violence in Kabul, Germany this week temporarily halted a controversial policy of deporting denied asylum-seekers back to Afghanistan.
The violence has fueled anger over the inability of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's fractured government to provide security in the capital and deepened tensions between rival political camps.
The government blamed both attacks on the Taliban-linked Haqqani network. The Taliban denied any involvement.
The continued strength of the Taliban - and the rise of the "Islamic State” in the country - comes as the United States and allies are mulling sending several thousand more troops to support Afghan forces.
Gabriel commented that seeking a political situation does not mean that Germany should end its engagement in Afghanistan.
"The Afghans tell us: Please don't pull out, because the situation will become worse," he said, adding that engagement doesn't include only military aid but also political and development support.
NATO maintains about 13,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly from the United States, in a training, advice and assistance capacity as of the Resolute Support mission. Germany has 980 troops stationed in the north of the country as part of the Resolute Support mission.
Repeated attempts kick-start sustained peace talks with the Taliban have floundered.
cw/sms (AFP, dpa)