Trump hails ‘very good’ discussions with Taliban | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 20, 2019

AFGHAN PEACE DEAL

Trump hails ‘very good’ discussions with Taliban

US President Donald Trump on Sunday hailed progress in negotiations on an Afghanistan peace deal, saying that talks with both the Taliban and the Afghan government are going well.

But while Trump said the United States has things “under control,” a massive bombing in Kabul highlighted the rampant violence still plaguing Afghanistan and the major challenges it would face even if an agreement is reached.

“We’re having very good discussions with the Taliban. We’re having very good discussions with the Afghan government,” Trump told reporters.

Expectations are rising for a deal in which the United States would start withdrawing its soldiers from Afghanistan after nearly two decades of war that has ground into a stalemate.

“We’ve really got it down to probably 13,000 people and we’ll be bringing it down a little bit more and then we’ll decide whether or not we’ll be staying longer or not,” Trump said.

“We have things under control very well with the small force. We can probably make it a little bit smaller and then we’ll decide,” he said, adding: “It’ll depend on the Taliban, it’ll depend on the Afghan government.”

A US-Taliban agreement would not by itself bring an end to Afghanistan’s war, as the insurgents would still need to make a deal with the Washington-backed government in Kabul.

Trump reiterated Sunday that the United States would maintain an intelligence presence in the country even if it withdraws troops, in order to guard against potential militant threats.

“I think it’s very important that we continue intelligence there in all cases, because it is somewhat of a nest for hitting us,” the president said.

Washington is keen to end its involvement in Afghanistan, where it has spent more than $1 trillion and Trump has said since the start of his presidency that he wants troops out. In return, the Taliban would commit to various security guarantees, including that the Islamist hardliners who long harbored Al-Qaeda would not allow Afghanistan to become a jihadist safe haven -- but any such promise would be tough to keep. 

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