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US in serious negotiations with Taliban, says Trump

US in serious negotiations with Taliban, says Trump

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1 Feb 2019 - 09:49
US in serious negotiations with Taliban, says Trump
author avatar
1 Feb 2019 - 09:49

WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): For the first time in 19 years, the US is in a serious negotiation in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump said Thursday, as peace talks led by his special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has gained ground.

“I can’t tell you that this is a guarantee because we are going into close to 19 years in being in Afghanistan and for the first time, they are talking about settling, they are talking about making an agreement and we bring our people back home if that happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We will see what happens but they are in very serious negotiations for the first time,” he said referring to the talks his special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is having with the representatives of the Taliban.

Early this week, Khalilzad announced that he has reached a draft peace framework after six days of talks in Qatar. As per the draft framework, the Taliban will deny safe haven to terrorist groups. This is based on the understanding that the Taliban must enter into direct talks with Kabul and, at the same time, agree to a ceasefire.           

The Washington Post reported that the Trump Administration is unlikely to order withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan without a comprehensive cease-fire agreement with the Taliban and a political road map for peace.

“Our position right now, and [the Taliban] understand it, is that nothing will be implemented” until agreement on all issues has “not only has been completed, but has started to be implemented,” the official told The Washington Post.

Senator Rand Paul on Thursday said that he supports Trump’s move to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. However not many lawmakers support his move as reflected in a legislation in the Congress that opposes withdrawal of US troops from both Syria and Afghanistan.

Introducing a legislation in this regard, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said that US should not precipitously withdraw from Syria or Afghanistan without a lasting peace agreement in place. 

Afghanistan has become America’s longest war. More than 2,000 U.S. service members have lost their lives in the war, and U.S. taxpayers have spent billions for aid and reconstruction. While the Afghan government has progressed in fits and starts, the reality is that the Taliban is a resurgent force than cannot be defeated military, Senator Dianne Feinstein said.

James Schoenlein, a nonresident scholar in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in a op-ed on Thursday said that this is a moment of cautious hope for Afghanistan’s future, though optimism is still a ways off. According to him, the US-Taliban draft framework is exactly the type of high-stakes diplomacy needed to end Afghanistan’s long war, or even just the US period of that conflict, which is the longest war in U.S. history. 


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