The quadrilateral talks on Friday concerning the Afghan peace process led to an obvious but important conclusion; all four countries – Russia, China, the US and Pakistan – agreed that talks with the Afghan Taliban were to only way to bring peace to the country. This latest meeting was important due to the unilateral cancellation of the negotiations by President Trump earlier this year.

Afghanistan desperately needs to see an end in the conflict on its soil, as evidenced by the high number of casualties and the uptick in violence between government forces and the Afghan Taliban. This last quarter – the period from June to September – had the highest number of deaths in a decade compared to previous three-month periods; 1174 civilians lost their lives, with a high proportion of women and children in this figure. The US’ decision to cancel the negotiations has only led to more violence and deaths, and this must be rectified.

It is positive then, that at the very least, consensus on negotiations with the Afghan Taliban is more or less unanimous, with even the US recognising that dialogue is the only way out. The US being on the same page as the rest of the members of the group in this meeting is indicative of its willingness to come back to the table. What the last two decades have made obvious is that a high number of foreign troops to fight the Taliban is not going to help eradicate them; if the US and other powers cannot successfully stamp out all support for the Afghan Taliban, then this war of limited gains and high losses has no victor, and never will.

However, now that the US is considering negotiations once more, it must take on the responsibility to insulate any talks from unilateral withdrawal, at least from its own side. President Trump must not cancel negotiations without warning once more. The Trump Administration must remember that pulling troops out of Afghanistan is one of its stated policy promises; reneging now is not only tantamount to displeasing one’s local voter base, but also leading to innocent lives lost in Afghanistan. The Trump Administration must see the numbers; their refusal to talk at the behest of a violent terror attack, but so many more have lost their lives due to the US’ refusal to continue the negotiation process. It is hoped better sense prevails in this round.