The US President Donald Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday that “tremendous amount of good things are happening” and that Afghanistan is talking about “settling” for the first time in the past 18 years.
Trump said that Afghanistan is talking about “making an agreement” adding that if that happens, he will withdraw troops from the country.
“You even look at what’s going on, and I can’t tell you that this is a guarantee because we’re going into close to 19 years in being in Afghanistan, and for the first time they’re talking about settling,” Trump said. “They’re talking about making an agreement and we bring our people back home, if that happens,” Trump said.
He added that “serious negotiations” are ongoing on the Afghan peace for the first time – in the last 18 years – adding that “there is a reason for that”.
US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who held talks with Taliban in Qatar in mid-January, said in a tweet on Saturday that he attended the International Contact Group (ICG) meeting on Afghanistan, adding that the US and the UK “share a common view on necessity of intra-Afghan talks”.
According to Khalilzad, US negotiators and Taliban representatives had agreed in principal on a draft framework for peace during the talks in Doha.
Trump on Wednesday said in a tweet that talks with the Taliban are “proceeding well” and the results will be determined “soon”, adding that the Afghan people “want peace in this never-ending war”.
He made the remarks as the US Senate on Thursday voted 68-23 to advance an amendment that would oppose withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Syria.
Trump has argued that Daesh had been defeated even though his intelligence chiefs disagree.
Trump abruptly tweeted plans in December to withdraw half of the 16,000 US forces from Afghanistan.
This announcement by the US president met with mixed reaction by Afghan and United States politicians.
The New York Times said in a report on Jan. 30 that in a letter to Donald Trump, President Ashraf Ghani has asked him to slow down the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and suggested cutting costs for the US where possible.
According to the New York Times, the letter was confirmed by three officials and described by one who had seen its contents.
The Times reported the letter was sent to Trump on Tuesday via Alice Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, who had been visiting Kabul.
The New York Times quoted a senior Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity as saying that the language of Ghani’s letter was broad — asking for teams from both sides to discuss details of where costs could be reduced, and how the troop levels could be brought down from the current 14,000 to a “more efficient level.”
The Times report stated that the official said the possibilities they had envisioned could save as much as $2 billion a year for the United States, drawing from areas such as maintenance contracts, and reducing the level of American troops to as low as 3,000.
The Wall Street Journal has also disclosed the content of Ghani letter to Trump and reported that the Afghan president has emphasized on talks between Kabul and Washington on reducing the number of US forces in Afghanistan and the continuation of their presence in the country.
Ghani has also invited Trump to visit Kabul, the Wall Street Journal said in a report on the letter.
According to the report, Ghani has said in the letter that Afghan government will remain committed in pursuing shared security and peace goals and that he is aware of the challenges in relationships and apparent changes in the US priorities and goals in the region.
“For making the peace talks a success, close agreement of Kabul and Washington is a need,” Humayun Jarir, a member of Hizb-e-Islami said.
The report says that Ghani said the achievements of the past one and a half decades should not be ignored in talks with the Taliban.
“One thing which is very important and I expect the Americans and (Zalmay) Khalilzad as an American-Afghan should not ignore human rights values and achievements of the people of Afghanistan in the past 18 years,” said Sima Samar, Chairperson of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
An Afghan analyst, Saleh Registani, told TOLOnews on Thursday that President Ghani is “struggling for his survival” with such offers.
Saleh said President Ashraf Ghani knows that “he is the ‘main loser’ of peace talks and by such letters he wants to struggle for his survival”.
He added that “no doubt, a hasty withdrawal will open the way for another civil war.”
Other analyst and university lecturer, Musa Fariwar, said that opposite to Afghan leaders, Trump is mostly thinking about his country’s interests.