US and Taliban keep open door to talks

Updated: Sep 10, 2019, 08:24 IST | Agencies

Trump said he had invited Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for talks on Sunday at the Camp David presidential retreat on a draft deal that would see the US withdraw thousands of troops and wind down its longest-ever war

US and Taliban keep open door to talks
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks at a ceremony to introduce the new chief of the intelligence service, in Kabul, on Monday. Pic/AFP

The US and Afghanistan's Taliban on Sunday both left the door open to fresh talks after President Donald Trump abruptly cancelled a secret summit, but the insurgents threatened to inflict greater costs.

Washington also said it would not relent in fighting the militants after Trump blamed the scuttling of the unprecedented meeting on a Taliban attack that killed a US soldier.

Trump said he had invited Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani for talks on Sunday at the Camp David presidential retreat on a draft deal that would see the US withdraw thousands of troops and wind down its longest-ever war.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US has not ruled out a return to talks with the Taliban. "I've watched the Taliban do things and say things they've not been permitted to do before," Pompeo told NBC. "I hope the Taliban will change their behaviour and recommit to the things that we've been talking to for months," he said on ABC. "In the end, this will be resolved through a series of conversations," he added.

Veteran US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad had spent a year meeting with the Taliban, who said Trump showed "neither experience nor patience." "Americans will be harmed more than any other" by Trump's decision, warned a statement by the group's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid. But he said the Taliban still believed "that the US will come back to this position" of talks that seek "the complete end of the occupation."

The office of Ghani, whose government is rejected by the Taliban as illegitimate, cautiously saluted the "sincere efforts of its allies" after Trump called off the summit. He also said "real peace can only be achieved if the Taliban stop killing Afghans".

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