Since President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out "subversion" at VA MORE announced a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan over the summer, the United States has sent thousands more troops there and bulked up its airpower.
The Taliban has said it will talk to the United States, but not the Western-backed Afghan government the insurgents see as illegitimate.
"We want the Afghans to lead and provide the substance to the reconciliation effort", Mattis said.
Mattis said the Afghan government, which offered talks without preconditions to the Taliban last month, should lead reconciliation efforts with the insurgent factions who have expressed interest in talks.
The United States has stepped up assistance to the Afghan military and greatly increased air strikes against the Taliban as part of its new regional strategy announced past year, in a bid to break the stalemate and force the insurgents to the negotiating table.
Mattis said he would be meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and top U.S. commanders.More news: Kenyan Team #Shujaa Finishes Second at the 2018 Canada Sevens Rugby Tournament
"It has been a game changer because it has forced every actor to re-examine their assumptions", Ghani said.
Uzbekistan is set to host an Afghan peace conference later this month, where participants are expected to call for direct talks between the militant group and Ghani's government. The number of air strikes also dramatically increased in an effort to put pressure on the Taliban and force them to negotiate for peace.
The U.S. Defense chief says the Taliban is coming closer to taking part in peace talks.
"It's all working to achieve a political reconciliation, not a military victory", Gen Mattis said.
Mattis is discussing both the military campaign and "peeling off" some members of the Taliban to pursue a peace deal with the Afghan government.
Taliban's "Red Unit" on the march.More news: England will be licking lips at chance to derail Irish slam - Sexton
The United States has stepped up assistance to the Afghan military and greatly increased air strikes against the Taliban as part of a regional strategy announced past year.
Afghan president's spokesman Dawa Khan Menapal told Anadolu Agency Ghani peace efforts with the Taliban topped the agenda of talks.
Taliban fighters still control large parts of the country and any new battlefield gains by US and USA -backed Afghan forces can not promise to overcome Afghanistan's yawning political divisions and entrenched corruption.
Mattis stressed that the military campaign was aimed at driving the insurgents toward a political reconciliation, as opposed to an outright battlefield defeat.
In a report published late on March 12, 2018, the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that more than 30,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the year due to continued conflict in Afghanistan.More news: Arsenal's Win Over Watford Is Important, Says Arsene Wenger