There are only about 14,000 United States troops in Afghanistan, but their presence ensures a continuous flow of U.S. financial assistance to Afghanistan.
And this can not be achieved without the help of regional players, in particular Pakistan, Special US Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said in his maiden public appearance before a Washington audience some six months after he was entrusted with this task by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
He also thought the Taliban were hoping to undermine the administration so much that in the end they would negotiate on their terms.
Afghan political analyst Mushtaq Rahim said there was a backlash in Afghan civil society against those who attended.
"We can not be a substitute for decisions that they must take", he added.
Amrullah Saleh, Ghani's running mate in upcoming presidential elections, in a tweet warned conference attendees of becoming "useful idiots" by reinforcing the narrative that "we are a web of tribes and not a state".
"Special Operations Forces of Afghan National Army (ANA) waged an operation and freed five countrymen from a Taliban prison in Chahar Dara district, Kunduz province Thursday night", Hanif Rezai, spokesman of army Corps 209 Shaheen based in the region, told Xinhua.
The Taliban leader, who declined to be identified, said Pakistan had kept "unprecedented pressure" on the militants and their close relatives over the past few months. The Afghan government was excluded from both.
However, the envoy emphasized that the Taliban will be among several stakeholders who will be participate in the power-sharing of a new government.
Khalilzad said there were indications that the Taliban could sit down with government representatives in a "multiparty format".
So, the time has come, they say for an inclusive dialogue leading to an inclusive piece, he said.
NPR's Scott Simon, who spent time in Afghanistan shortly after USA forces toppled the Taliban, reported, "Under the Taliban, women couldn't leave their homes without a male relative".
The final statement proposed no timeline for the withdrawal of American forces, but the Taliban to protect citizens' fundamental rights including women's rights in the areas of education, work, and health in accordance with the Islamic principles. They couldn't speak in public. "They could be beaten for reading a book".
Noting that Afghanistan today was very different than the Afghanistan of 19 years ago, Khalilzad said that it's a different country and it will take time for the Taliban perhaps to appreciate that. "It's a different country and it will take time for Taliban, perhaps to appreciate that but the message that they have given me is that they understand that they can not go back", Khalilzad said.
They "called for the protection of freedom of speech in line with Islamic principles, and to undertake efforts to attract global assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan's infrastructure". "To be clear, no troop withdrawal timetable exists", he said.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled his intention to wind down America's longest conflict, declaring this week in his State of the Union address that "great nations do not fight endless wars". The war is now considered a stalemate. Beyond the usual considerations of foreign policy and the nation's role in world affairs, the weeks leading up to the annual speech were heavy on the region capped by the debate over the announced U.S. withdrawal of troops from eastern Syria, plans for turning over the fight to the local armies, and a robust debate over the efficacy of abandoning American allies.
The remaining US troops - between 7,000 to 8,000 - would shift their focus to counterterrorism efforts, according to Bowman.