US President Trump on Thursday made an unannounced trip to Afghanistan where he celebrated the US holiday Thanksgiving with troops and met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
Speaking to the media, Trump said that meetings with the Taliban had been reestablished.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them,” Trump told reporters on Thursday.
“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.”
In response, Taliban leaders told Reuters that the group has been meeting with U.S. officials in Doha since last weekend, and they believe that formal peace talks could resume soon.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said the group was “ready to restart the talks” that were scuttled in early September after a Taliban blast in Kabul killed twelve people, including an American, and Trump declared the process “dead.”
Mujahid told Reuters: “Our stance is still the same. If peace talks start, it will be resumed from the stage where it had stopped.”
“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 to Reuters, on condition of anonymity.
AFP reports that Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said “It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now. We will give our official reaction later.” Reuters reported earlier that the Taliban said they were “ready”to restart talks.