Trump says talks with Taliban ‘constructive’

WASHINGTON, Feb 06 (INP): US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban were making headway as he voiced cautious hope for a negotiated end to America´s longest war.

“My administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban,” Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, weighing “a possible political solution to this long and bloody conflict.”

“We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace,” he said. “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” Trump said, after his controversial orders to pull all US troops out of Syria and half of the 14,000-strong force in Afghanistan. US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in January held an unusually long six days of negotiations with Taliban representatives in Qatar. While Khalilzad has stressed that much remains to discuss, the broad goal would be for the United States to pull troops from Afghanistan and for the Taliban to ensure that foreign extremists will not be based on its territory — the reason for the US invasion after the September 11, 2001 attacks. But the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the internationally recognized government in Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted ahead of Trump´s speech that he had spoken to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who “underscored the central importance of ensuring the centrality of the Afghan government in the peace process.” INP/AJ