Washington, Aug 17 US President Donald Trump met his national security team to discuss peace negotiations with the Taliban, which could lead to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.
“We are working diligently on the path forward in Afghanistan,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Friday.
“In continued close cooperation with the government of Afghanistan, we remain committed to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement, including a reduction in violence and a ceasefire, ensuring that Afghan soil is never again used to threaten the United States or her allies, and bringing Afghans together to work towards peace,” he added.
In addition to Donald Trump and Pompeo, the meeting was attended by Vice President Mike Pence, Defence Secretary Mark Esper, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Central Intelligence Agency Director Gina Haspel.
The eighth round of negotiations took place on August 13 in Doha. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said both the sides would meet again after each team completes final consultations, and the agreement will be signed in the presence of international guarantors.
An agreement between the Taliban and Washington could include the reduction of US military personnel in Afghanistan from 14,000 to 9,000, one of Trump’s objectives since he came to power.
Reportedly, in turn, the Taliban will pledge not to collaborate with al-Qaeda and prevent the terror group from using areas under Taliban control to finance, recruit or train fighters or plan operations.
They must also commit to start peace negotiations with the government of President Ashraf Ghani, to which they have so far refused. The talks would presumably be hosted by Oslo.
Trump aspires to leave only a small contingent dedicated to the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.