Trump optimistic over Afghan deal

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DM Monitoring
WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump paid an unannounced visit to Afghanistan, where he confirmed that the United States is holding talks with Afghan Taliban, according to the White House.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal. And we’re meeting with them,” Trump said after his bilateral meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at U.S. Bagram airbase close to Afghan capital Kabul. “We’ve had very good success in talks with the Taliban,” Trump added.
Trump also noted that he seeks to reduce the number of U.S. troops in the central Asian country to 8,600, or even to a much lower level because of “new weaponry and technology.”
The United States reportedly maintains some 12,000 troops in Afghanistan. This unannounced visit was Trump’s first trip to Afghanistan, where Taliban militants and the Afghan government forces have intensified operations in the war-torn country recently.
In September, Trump cancelled secret meetings with the Taliban leaders and Afghan president after a car bomb in Kabul killed an American soldier and 11 others. Nearly 2,300 U.S. servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001.
The Taliban said Friday it was “way too early” to speak of resuming direct talks with Washington, a day after President Donald Trump suggested negotiations to end America’s longest war were back on track during a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
“It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now. We will give our official reaction later,” the group’s official spokesman, ZabihullahMujahid, told media.
Meanwhile, The Taliban said Friday it was “way too early” to speak of resuming direct talks with Washington, a day after President Donald Trump suggested negotiations to end America’s longest war were back on track during a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
“It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now. We will give our official reaction later,” the group’s official spokesman, ZabihullahMujahid, told media.
Trump on Thursday had said the Taliban “wants to make a deal”.
“We’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a ceasefire,” he told reporters during his unannounced trip to Bagram Airfield, outside the capital Kabul, to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with the troops.
His statement suggested progress after his shock decision in September to end negotiations with the insurgents just as Washington appeared on the verge of signing a deal with the Taliban that would have seen the US begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan in return for security guarantees. The deal was expected to pave a way towards direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul. But Trump described the year-long effort as “dead” and withdrew an invitation to the insurgents to meet in the United States due to the killing of an American soldier.
Both Washington and the Taliban had left the door open for talks to resume, however, with most observers agreeing that a political settlement is the only way to reach a lasting peace in Afghanistan after 18 years of war.