US President Donald Trump told his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, on Wednesday he wants to see a “significant” drop in violence by the Taliban before “meaningful” negotiations can happen, the White House said in a statement.
During a meeting of the two leaders held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “Trump reiterated the need for a significant and lasting reduction in violence by the Taliban that would facilitate meaningful negotiations on Afghanistan’s future,” the White House said.
Washington has for weeks been calling for the violence to be reined in, posing it as a condition for resuming formal negotiations on an agreement that would see US troops begin to leave Afghanistan in return for security guarantees, after a near two-decade fight.
The Taliban are aiming to reach a withdrawal agreement with the US by the end of January and are prepared to “scale down” military operations in advance of signing a deal, their chief spokesman said this week.
The two sides had been negotiating the deal for a year and were on the brink of an announcement in September 2019 when Trump abruptly declared the process “dead”, citing Taliban violence.
Talks were later restarted in December in Qatar, but paused again following an attack near the US-run Bagram military base in Afghanistan.
During a separate media briefing in Davos, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country and the US were closer in their approach to the Taliban in Afghanistan than they had been for many years. He said he had never seen a military solution to that conflict.
“Finally, the position of the US is there should be negotiations and a peace plan,” Khan said.