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Taliban say 'way too early' to discuss resuming talks with US

29 Nov 2019 Al Jazeera

Taliban has rubbished US President Donald Trump's claim that the United States had resumed peace talks with the Afghan armed group nearly two months after they were abruptly suspended.

"It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now. We will give our official reaction later," the group's official spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, told AFP news agency in a WhatsApp message.

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During an unannounced Thanksgiving visit on Thursday to US troops in Afghanistan - his first to the South Asian country since becoming president - Trump said the US was "meeting with" the Taliban.

"The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them and we are saying it has to be a ceasefire and they didn't want to do a ceasefire and now they do want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way," he told reporters.

The visit came a week after a prisoner swap between Afghan government and the armed group that had raised hopes for the revival of peace talks that were conducted in the Qatari capital, Doha, since last year.

An American and an Australian held hostage since 2016 were released in exchange for three senior members of Haqqani Network, which is linked to Taliban. 

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Earlier this year, the US reached a deal in principle with the Taliban to pull out troops from the country and wind down the 18-year war in return for security guarantees.

But in a shock move in September, Trump called off the talks after an American soldier was killed in a Taliban attack.

The US president had more recently suggested that the negotiations could get under way again.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate formally with the Afghan government, but diplomatic efforts continue to foster dialogue.

During Thursday's visit, Trump met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, though the details of what transpired in their meeting has not been made public yet.

About 13,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, 18 years after the US invaded the country in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Original Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/taliban-early-discuss-resuming-talks-191129090959411.html

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