US-Taliban Talks Are Back On

Trump makes announcement during Afghanistan visit

Image Credits: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The US president spoke of his desire to end the conflict in Afghanistan and said discussions were once again underway with the Taliban.

Trump previously broke off long-anticipated talks in September.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that talks with the Taliban resumed as he sought an end to the United States’ longest war.

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He made the announcement during a surprise visit to US troops in Afghanistan to celebrate Thanksgiving, even serving turkey to armed forces. Around 12,000 US forces remain in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn’t want to do a cease-fire and now they do want to do a cease-fire,” he told reporters.

He spent around three hours on the ground and sat down with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to discuss the ceasefire before leaving shortly before midnight.

Peace talks previously called off

The trip took place after Trump abruptly broke off peace talks with the Taliban in September. The president canceled a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders after a particularly deadly spate of violence broke out in Kabul. Twelve people were killed, including a US soldier.

The talks had been in the works for nearly a year, with the aim of reaching a political settlement between the US and the Taliban.

It is unknown how soon after that the fresh talks began, or how substantive they are.

Trump promised at his election in 2016 to put a stop to “endless wars” with US involvement.

Prisoner swap sparks truce hopes

It was the president’s first visit to Afghanistan and comes on the back of a prisoner swap between Washington and Kabul that increased hopes for a peace talks revival.

Last week the Taliban released hostages American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Week to US forces in southern Afghanistan. The hostages, both university professors, were kidnapped in 2016 outside the American University in Kabul where they had taught.

The Afghan government had freed three imprisoned Taliban officers just hours before.

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