Middle East/North Africa

Trump to meet with Taliban leaders ‘in the not-too-distant future’

At a press conference Saturday afternoon in the White House briefing room, President Trump said that he will be meeting personally with Taliban leaders in the “in the not-too-distant future.”

The press conference, which was scheduled to address the state of the coronavirus outbreak, came the day the U.S. signed a deal with Taliban leaders to incrementally withdraw troops from Afghanistan. 

Trump began by congratulating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and “the people of the United States for having spent so much in terms of blood, in terms of treasure, and treasury.”

Trump said that the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan should not be “law enforcement,” and the deal switches that responsibility to the Taliban.

“I’m going to be personally meeting with Taliban leaders in the not too distant future. We’ll be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say they’re going to be doing — they will be killing terrorists,” Trump said. “It’s time after all these years to bring our people back home.”

The deal, signed by U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the Taliban’s political chief, Abdul Ghani Baradar, in Doha, Qatar on Saturday, seeks to to end America’s longest war. The U.S. agreed to begin the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, and in return, the Taliban has assured it will not house terrorists with intentions of attacking the United States on Afghan soil.

The agreement incrementally reduces the amount of United States troops in Afghanistan from 12,000 troops currently to 8,600 troops in 135 days. The remaining troops will continue to fight terrorist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda.

The move by the administration was met with skepticism by some GOP lawmakers. Trump said at the Saturday press conference that the U.S. is ready to return troops if the Taliban does not fulfill its end of the deal.

“I really believe that the Taliban wants to do something to show that we’re not all wasting time,” Trump said, adding that “if bad things happen we’ll go back.”

Tags Al Qaeda Donald Trump Donald Trump ISIS Mark Esper Mike Pompeo Taliban peace deal War in Afghanistan

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