US in serious negotiations on Afghanistan for first time: Trump
Washington, Feb 1: The US is in serious negotiations with the Taliban for the first time in 19 years to end the war in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump has said as he touted his administration's talks with the militant group.
The optimistic tone come hours after US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad defended his talks with the Taliban and cautioned against a rush to judgment.
While Khalilzad said his nearly week-long meeting with Taliban officials yielded "significant progress," Afghan President Ghani expressed concerns about the US troop withdrawal from the war-torn country.
"I can't tell you that this is a guarantee because we are going into close to 19 years in being in Afghanistan and for the first time, they are talking about settling, they are talking about making an agreement and we bring our people back home if that happens," Trump told reporters at the White House.
"We will see what happens but they are in very serious negotiations for the first time," he said.
Early this week, Khalilzad announced that he has reached a draft peace framework after six days of talks in Qatar. As per the draft framework, the Taliban will deny safe haven to terrorist groups.
This is based on the understanding that the Taliban must enter into direct talks with Kabul and, at the same time, agree to a ceasefire.
Meanwhile, a media has said the Trump administration is unlikely to order withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan without a comprehensive cease-fire agreement with the Taliban and a political road map for peace.
Based on interviews with unnamed senior administration officials, The Washington Post in a news report said that “no withdrawal will occur until a comprehensive cease-fire and a political road map for peace have been negotiated” between the militants and the Afghans.