November 29, 2019 at 11:57 PM EST
President Trump’s confident assertion that the Taliban is ready and even eager for a cease-fire demanded by the United States in Afghanistan’s 18-year-old war may be more wishful thinking than reality.
Declaring that the U.S.-Taliban talks he abruptly canceled in September are back in motion, Trump said during a Thanksgiving Day visit to troops in Afghanistan that the Taliban “wants to make a deal. And we’re meeting with them, and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire.”
“They didn’t want to do a cease-fire, but now they do want to do a cease-fire,” Trump said of the militants. “It will probably work out that way. . . . We’ve made tremendous progress,” he added.
But on Friday neither the Taliban nor the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani indicated that a cease-fire was near, or even being discussed in resumed U.S. negotiations.
- The abrupt disclosure appeared to deal a significant blow to the ongoing peace talks between the United States and the Taliban
- Taliban on Sunday responded by saying the decision to cancel peace talks with its leadership would lead to the further loss of American lives and assets
If realised, the summit would have been the latest high-profile, high-stakes diplomacy by the president, who is fond of dramatic gestures.
Instead, his announcement by tweet ended a painstaking diplomatic process led for nearly a year by Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-born veteran US diplomat who has been meeting with the Taliban in Qatar.
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (AP) — President Donald Trump paid a surprise Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, where he announced the U.S. and the Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban want a cease-fire.
Trump arrived at Bagram Air Field shortly after 8:30 p.m. local time Thursday and spent 3½ hours on the ground during his first trip to the site of America’s longest war. He served turkey and thanked the troops, delivered a speech and sat down with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani before leaving just after midnight. He arrived back in Florida, where he is spending the holiday weekend, early Friday morning local time.
At the time the U.S.-Taliban talks ended, the two sides were preparing to sign a draft agreement that called for a reduction in violence. But it specifically declared that any discussion of a cease-fire was to be left to follow-on negotiations between the militants and the government in Kabul.
In a statement, the Taliban said that remains its understanding. “We are ready to talk, but we have the same stance to resume the talks from where it was suspended,” Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Post.
😂👉It was not a happy Thanksgiving for President Trump’s detractors, as the president showed with his surprise trip to Afghanistan Thursday that “America First” is not a code term for isolationism.👈😂
I haven’t seen any reactions from the Afghan government or any others.