Jump-starting talks is part of the Afghanistan exist strategy.
Without some kind of political initiative underway as its forces leave, the administration fears that the United States will again be accused of abandoning the region, just as it was at the end of the Soviet Union’s Afghan occupation in the early 1990s. If another civil war breaks out, as many fear, Afghanistan’s neighbors will again feel the need to choose sides.
In addition, U.S. hopes of positioning a post-withdrawal counterterrorism force in Afghanistan to continue the fight against remnants of al-Qaeda could be compromised.
More immediately, negotiations are critical to hopes for a prisoner exchange with the Taliban that could bring a homecoming for Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl, the only U.S. service member known to be a Taliban captive.