Taliban announced their stance on US President Donald Trump’s decision to call off negotiations with the group almost 12 hours after it was made public in a tweet by the United States leader.
The Taliban in a statement said that they had “productive negotiations” with the US negotiators and “the agreement was finalized”.
It added that the US team was satisfied with the progress in the talks until yesterday [Saturday, Sept. 7] and our talks ended in a good environment. And meanwhile, both sides were preparing for announcing and signing of the peace deal, the statement said.
“We had selected September 23 for beginning intra-Afghan negotiations after signing of the peace agreement,” the Taliban said, adding that regional, world countries and international organizations were supporting the process.
“Now that the US President Trump has called off the negotiations with the Islamic emirate, this has damaged the US the most, has affected its reputation, has further disclosed its anti-peace stance, and increased financial losses and loss in lives and affected America’s activities when it comes to political interaction,” the statement said.
“We are committed to continuing negotiations till the end if a [political] settlement is chosen instead of war,” the statement said.
It added that the US reaction to one attack ahead of the signing of the agreement does not show patience or experience. “While just sharply before the attack [in Kabul], hundreds of Afghans were martyred in the US and its internal supporters’ attacks and properties were destroyed by fire,” the group claimed.
The group says that the invitation of President Trump was extended with [the Taliban] by US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad at the end of August. But the statement says the invitation was postponed by the Taliban until the signing of the agreement.
“Islamic emirate has its own policy and a firm stance. We called for talks 20 years ago and the stance is the same today and we believe that the US is unduly coming back to its [previous] stance,” the group says in the statement.
This comes as the US President Donald Trump said he has called off peace negotiations with the Taliban after the group admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed at least 10 people, including a US soldier.
In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said he had been set to meet senior Taliban leaders, and separately, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, at Camp David on Sunday. However, he canceled the meeting and called off negotiations after the group admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed a US soldier.
Trump said if the Taliban cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway.
The US and the Taliban “agreed in principle” on a deal after nine rounds of talks in Doha and UAE, according to US chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad.
In an interview with TOLOnews last week, Mr. Khalilzad said the United States and the Taliban have reached “agreed in principle” on a deal but added that it is not final until US President Trump agrees on it.
Mr. Khalilzad said that based on the draft agreement, the US will withdraw 5,000 troops from five bases in Afghanistan within 135 days if conditions in the agreement are addressed by the Taliban.
On May 9, the sixth round of US-Taliban talks ended in the Qatari capital, Doha. The talks so far have been focused on four key issues: US forces withdrawal, counterterrorism assurances, a ceasefire, and intra-Afghan negotiations.
Last week, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington is not seeking a permanent military presence in Afghanistan after the Taliban said they are close to finalizing a peace agreement with the United States.
The Afghan conflict has cost almost 2,400 American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer dollars. As the war approaches its 18th year, 14,000 US troops are still in Afghanistan and senior intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that the country remains fragile and could once again become a terrorist haven.