WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump ruled out on Monday holding talks with the Taliban any time soon, amid a wave of bloody large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul.
“I don’t think we are prepared to talk right now,” Trump said, throwing into question Washington’s strategy of pushing the group towards the negotiating table.
“We don’t want to talk with the Taliban,” Trump said, adding, “There may be a time but it’s going to be a long time.”
The president further said: “We’re going to finish what we have to finish, what nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it.”
On Monday, Kabul suffered the third major assault in recent days, as the Taliban and the Islamic State group escalate their offensives.
According to Reuters Jan 20 report, exploratory meetings in Pakistan between a high-level Taliban delegation and a representative of a prominent Afghan politician have fueled speculation of a revival of long-stalled talks on ending Afghanistan’s 16-year war that kills thousands each year.
Similar hopes have repeatedly been dashed since the first direct talks between the Western-backed Afghan government and the Taliban broke down almost as soon as they began in the Pakistani hill station of Murree in 2015.
A statement from the Russian foreign ministry earlier this week had called for urgent direct talks between the Taliban and government, adding that Russia, which has maintained contacts with the insurgent movement, could host them.
“I think something is cooking,” said Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a senior adviser to Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, which was established to oversee the peace process.