Pakistan urges US, Taliban to return to negotiation table

Clay Curtis
September 13, 2019

Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcomed victims' families and survivors to the White House where they marked the anniversary with a moment of silence before the president headed to the Pentagon for his speech. The only surprise was that things had come as far as a possible Camp David meeting being contemplated.

The idea behind this secret summit seemed to be to give the impression to President Trump's support base that he is a strong leader and can bring such conflicting sides on to one table.

Now about 14,000 USA troops remain and Trump has called it "ridiculous" that they are still in Afghanistan after so long and so many billions of dollars spent. The Taliban and the USA and Afghan military have been fighting more intensely for the past two years, with the aim, on both sides, of making gains on the ground to bolster their position during the negotiations. So a truce with the Taliban is a bitter pill for the United States to swallow.

If the Americans want to not attack us, and they want to withdraw, and they sign the agreement, yes we will not attack them.

Mr Trump announced on Twitter Saturday that he'd been about to meet leaders of the Taliban - who harboured Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan - on Sunday at his Camp David presidential retreat. He says with the deficit topping a trillion dollars, the USA doesn't have the financial ability to stay in Afghanistan indefinitely, at least not without support from its allies.

Crawford: The Trump administration's approach to negotiations gets mixed reviews in my book.

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On Wednesday, the top US commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. Scott Miller, spoke at a closed memorial service at the headquarters of the USA -led military coalition.

Their nationalist message "allows them to recruit a basically endless supply of new fighters from every corner of the country", he said. If the Taliban are major players in Afghanistan so is the Afghan government.

About 14,000 U.S. troops serve in Afghanistan. "This has deepened apprehensions that acts of terror are being used to jockey for a place of advantage in the negotiating process", Akbaruddin said.

That claim was backed up by sources CBS News contacted at Resolute Support, the US -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission in Afghanistan.

In March, India conveyed to the USA that it should not withdraw its troops from Afghanistan without putting in place an elected "political structure" to govern the country. The only real path to peace has always been a process that meaningfully involves the Afghan people and all the myriad stakeholders, including the government and political parties in Kabul. While European officials were supposed to work out the modalities of the deal, it was clearly based on the United States and Taliban.

The statement echoed controversial body counts the United States used as a metric for success during the Vietnam War even as security there crumbled, but the defense official familiar with USA operations in Afghanistan said it is accurate.

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