The Afghan Taliban militant group says it is “way too early” to speak of restarting direct negotiations with the United States, a day after US President Donald Trump paid a surprise visit to Afghanistan and said Washington is resuming talks with the militant group.
During his first visit to Afghanistan since he took office, Trump said on Thursday, “The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them.”
“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,” Trump told reporters during his surprise Thanksgiving Day visit to the US troops at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.
But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Friday that impediments remained in the way of a resumption of the talks.
“It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now,” he told AFP, noting that the militant group would give an official reaction to Trump’s remarks later.
Trump ended yearlong talks with the Taliban in September. The negotiations were aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. He said at the time that the decision to end the talks was his response to a deadly bomb blast by the militants that killed 12 people in the Afghan capital of Kabul on September 5, including an American soldier.
The administration of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had been kept out of those talks. The Taliban have been saying they do not recognize the Kabul government.
Trump’s visit came after the release of two Western hostages by the militants earlier this month as part of a swap deal with the Afghan government.
President Ghani has proposed an initiative of his own to open direct talks between his government and the Taliban.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and overthrew a Taliban regime in power at the time. But US forces have remained bogged down there through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.