1st LD Writethru: Trump says USA working to end Afghan war

Elias Hubbard
February 9, 2020

Speaking to a joint session of Congress in the House of Representatives, Trump noted that the US military is making progress in Afghanistan, and peace talks with the Taliban militant group are underway. Taliban chief Maulvi Haibtullah allowed political representatives last month to agree to the U.S. demand for reduction in violence to pave the way for signing the agreement.

It was not clear whether the President's comments indicated that US Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, was on the verge of reaching an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump reiterated his vow to negotiate troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in his State of the Union address on Wednesday.

But previous year he said abruptly that he had canceled a summit not previously announced at the presidential retreat of Camp David with the Taliban due to an attack that killed an American soldier. "It is not our job to act as law enforcement agencies for other nations".

Taliban attacks on USA military personnel in September and December 2019 have interrupted the peace talks that began the same year between the United States and the Taliban.

Afghanistan, Iran and China were the three major foreign policy issues in Mr Trump's address, which sounded more like an election speech - dominated heavily by domestic issues and claims of revitalising the American economy. "They want neither peace nor sports", he said. "In Afghanistan, the determination and valor of our warfighters has allowed us to make tremendous progress, and peace talks are underway".

"I am not looking to kill hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, many of them totally innocent", Trump said during his address at Capitol Hill. "Our stance is principled and united, and our policy is not shaky like the opposite side", Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on messaging service WhatsApp. "We will closely watch Trump's actions and not his speeches".

That deal would open the way to a broader post-war agreement for Afghans, and allow for the withdrawal of most, if not all, U.S. and coalition forces.

Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov said his country was engaged in the process of peaceful reconciliation in the neighbouring Afghanistan "because it touches on our lives and the national interest and interest of the security of our state".

Sources in Qatar said on Wednesday that United States peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has returned to Doha after holding talks in Kabul and Islamabad on the peace process.

"We are waiting for a clear response from the Taliban about a ceasefire or a significant and lasting reduction in violence based on a practical mechanism which is acceptable to the people of Afghanistan and the USA government", Khalilzad said, according to Al Jazeera, which is also headquartered in Doha. After all, U.S. officials recently visited Afghanistan and Pakistan to brief both states on the status of the negotiations.

A Taliban official says that Qatar is now actively involved in talks in view of differences as the Taliban are disagreed with the American notion of ceasefire.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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