Trump: Talks with Taliban Continue, Afghanistan Nevertheless Terror ‘Breeding Ground’

Ayaz Gul – Voice of America

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The fate of a significantly-anticipated peace agreement involving the United States and the Taliban is hanging in the balance right after each adversaries in Afghanistan’s 18-year-old war stated they nevertheless have “some details” to go over.

Taliban and U.S. negotiators in current days have repeatedly asserted they are prepared to sign a deal. The statements triggered widespread media speculation that a meeting involving U.S. President Donald Trump and his national safety group this previous Friday could lead to a formal announcement about a U.S. troop drawdown.

Trump shared specifics of the meeting with reporters on Sunday as he headed back to the White Property from New Jersey, suggesting the drawdown program is nevertheless in the performs.

“We’re getting extremely very good discussions [with the Taliban]. We will see what takes place. We’ve definitely got it down to in all probability 13,000 individuals [troops] and we’ll be bringing it down a small bit extra and then we will make a decision irrespective of whether or not we will be staying longer or not,” he stated.

The U.S. plans to leave behind a “very substantial intelligence” force, Trump stressed, for operations against Islamic State and al-Qaida, keeping that Afghanistan remains “a breeding ground” for terrorists.

“I assume it is extremely critical that we continue intelligence [operations] there, in all instances for the reason that it is somewhat of a nest [for terrorists] for hitting us… We have factors below handle extremely properly and with this smaller force, we can in all probability make it a small bit smaller sized, and then we will make a decision. It will rely on the Taliban, it will rely on the Afghan government,” Trump stated.

The Taliban is in talks with the U.S. on a timetable for full withdrawal of American and NATO forces from Afghanistan. Unless that takes place, the insurgent group maintains it will not engage in significantly-sought intra-Afghan negotiations to go over a permanent cease-fire and difficulties connected to future political governance.

On Sunday, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen also downplayed reports the deal with the U.S. is prepared to be announced. He clarified that “some details” nevertheless required to be worked out ahead of a date is fixed for signing and announcing the agreement.

In exchange for a foreign troop withdrawal, the Taliban will be tasked with stopping transnational terrorists from utilizing insurgent-controlled Afghan territory for international terrorism.

But enhanced attacks by Islamic State, which includes the current suicide bombing of a wedding celebration that killed 63 Afghan civilians in Kabul, have raised queries on irrespective of whether the Taliban’s counterterrorism commitments can be trusted in the occasion of a U.S. withdrawal.

“I am not trusting anyone. Appear, I am not trusting anybody… A lot of negative factors occur in Kabul, a lot of negative factors are taking place in Afghanistan. There is some extremely optimistic factors. But, appear, we’re there for a single purpose. We never want that to be a laboratory, Okay? It can not be a laboratory for terror, and we have stopped that,” Trump stated when his focus was drawn to the IS-claimed bombing in the Afghan capital.

In a speech Monday marking Afghan Independence Day celebrations, President Ashraf Ghani blamed “sanctuaries” in neighboring nations for inflicting deadly violence and terrorism against his nation. He urged international stakeholders to aid his government get rid of the alleged havens.

Ghani did not name any nation, but Kabul has regularly accused Pakistan of sheltering and supporting the Taliban as properly as other militants in orchestrating attacks inside Afghanistan, charges officials in the neighboring nation reject as baseless.

Islamabad acknowledges, nonetheless, that insurgents may well be utilizing refugee camps that host millions of Afghans in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has repeatedly known as for the repatriation of the displaced Afghan households to let safety forces to take handle of these regions close to the largely porous border involving the two nations.