Washington, 4 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – US President Donald Trump spoke by phone with a top Taliban leader, after the US and the Islamist group signed a deal over the weekend meant to reduce violence in Afghanistan and allow Washington to draw down forces in the country.
“We had a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban,” Trump told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday.
He later took questions and went into more details, stressing that both sides had a “common interest” in ending the conflict, ongoing since 2001 when the US invaded Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, carried out by al-Qaeda.
“The relationship I have is very good with the mullah. We had a very good, long conversation today,” Trump said. “They want to cease the violence.”
The Taliban had earlier said its leadership, including Abdul Ghani Baradar, had spoken with Trump – a rare instance of a US president directly talking to a non-state enemy actor.
“It’s not easy to get out of these conflicts. Very complex,” Trump said, noting his problems included dealing with hesitant US lawmakers.
The US is looking reduce its presence in Afghanistan to 8,600 troops – a level seen prior to Trump taking office – within months.