Trump visit to Troops in Afghanistan
Trump visit to Troops in Afghanistan

By Jack Phillips

Following a surprise by President Donald Trump to visit troops, the Taliban said Friday they are ready to restart peace talks with the United States amid the 18-year-long conflict in Afghanistan.

“The Taliban wants to make a deal. We’ll see if they want to make a deal. It’s got to be a real deal, but we’ll see,” Trump said after he arrived in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving.

The Taliban, he said, only want to resume peace talks because American troops are “doing a great job” in the country.

President Donald Trump and Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani speak to American soldiers during a surprise Thanksgiving day visit at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan on Nov. 28, 2019. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

“That’s the only reason they want to make a deal. So I want to thank you, and I want to thank the Afghan soldiers for really—I’ve spoken to a lot of you today, and you say they’re really fighting hard. I was very impressed with that, actually. So I want to thank you,” the president said.

Speaking to reporters, Trump also said that “we are meeting with them,” referring to the Taliban. “We say it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way,” he added.

Earlier this year, the White House canceled peace negotiations and Trump declared the talks were “dead” after the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for a bombing that left a dozen people dead, including one American, in Kabul.

But on Friday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group is “ready to restart the talks.”

U.S. soldiers walk at the site of a Taliban suicide attack in Kandahar in a file photo. (Javed Tanveer/AFP/Getty Images)

“Our stance is still the same. If peace talks start, it will be resumed from the stage where it had stopped,” Mujahid told the Reuters news agency.

Taliban leaders have been involved in meetings with U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, for the past week or so and said formal peace talks could resume, the report said.

“We are hoping that Trump’s visit to Afghanistan will prove that he is serious to start talks again. We don’t think he has not much of a choice,” said a senior Taliban commander.

There are currently about 13,000 U.S. forces as well as thousands of NATO troops in the country.

During Thursday’s visit, Trump met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who wrote on Twitter that the two leaders had “discussed the important progress we have jointly made in our military efforts in the battlefield” as well as the necessity of a ceasefire with the Taliban.

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