Obama Says Hopes Death of Taliban Leader Will Lead to Peace Process

U.S. president confirms death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in U.S. drone strike, says Taliban should seize opportunity to reconcile with Afghan government.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House, Washington D.C., U.S., May 6, 2016.
Carolyn Kaster, AP

REUTERS — U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed on Monday the death of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike, and said he hoped his removal would lead to the Taliban joining a peace process.

Mansour "rejected efforts by the Afghan government to seriously engage in peace talks and end the violence", Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

"The Taliban should seize the opportunity to pursue the only real path for ending this long conflict — joining the Afghan government in a reconciliation process that leads to lasting peace and stability."

This handout file photo released by the Afghan Taliban is said to show Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour.

Obama, who started a three-day visit to Vietnam on Monday, reiterated U.S. support for the Afghan government and security forces and said Washington would ensure those who targeted his country and its partners would have "no safe haven".

The Afghan Taliban's leadership council met on Sunday to start considering succession after a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan targeted its commander, two Taliban sources told Reuters.