KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. Army’s chief of staff made a surprise visit to the capital Kabul where he met Afghan 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 are reportedly scheduled for later this month in Doha, Qatar, where the insurgents maintain a political office.

President Donald Trump announced last month that Milley was his pick to succeed Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford’s term ends Oct. 1.

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