The Taliban on Friday appeared to distance themselves from U.S. President Donald Trump’s claim that Washington had resumed peace talks with the insurgents, saying it was “way too early” to comment on the situation.
In a statement to news agency AFP, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said: “It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now.” He added that the insurgents would give an official reaction to Trump’s claims later.
On Thursday, Trump paid a surprised visit to Afghanistan to celebrate the American Thanksgiving holiday with soldiers deployed at Bagram Airbase near Kabul. During a speech, the U.S. president appeared to indicate progress in talks with the Taliban. “We’re meeting with them and we’re saying it has to be a ceasefire,” he said. Mujahid’s reaction, however, suggests significant barriers remain.
In September Trump abruptly called off yearlong peace talks between Washington and the Taliban after a U.S. soldier was killed in a strike claimed by the insurgents. “We were getting close and we pulled back. We didn’t want to do it because of what they did,” Trump told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Bagram. “Since then, we’ve hit them so hard, they’ve never been hit this hard,” he said, adding the war in Afghanistan “will not be decided on the battlefield” and “ultimately there will need to be a political solution.”
The militant group has steadfastly refused to talk to the Afghan government, declaring it a “puppet” of the U.S.