White House talks on Afghan peace deal ‘very good’, says Trump

WASHINGTON: The White House said Saturday it was "very good" between
President Donald Trump and top advisers, pointing to progress in preparation for a
peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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The White House said Trump met with National Security Advisers at his Badminton,
New Jersey golf course, which included Secretary of Defense Mark Asper, Secretary
of State Mike Pompeo, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford.

John Bolton, a National Security Point man and US special envoy for talks with the
Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, was also present.

Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Goodley said in a statement, "Our ongoing
negotiations and the final negotiations on peace and reconciliation agreements with
the Taliban and the Afghan government are at the center. The meeting has been great
and negotiations are moving forward." . "

Trump just added on Twitter, "Just finished a great meeting about Afghanistan. This
19-year-old opposition to the war, and we all, if possible, look forward to a deal!"

Expectations are mounting for an agreement in which the United States will begin
withdrawing its 14,000 troops from Afghanistan after a decade-long war that has gone
stale.

Washington wants to end its involvement in Afghanistan, where it has spent more
than a trillion dollars, and since the beginning of its presidency, Trump has said he
wants to end military forces.

In return, the Taliban will impose various security guarantees, including that long-
haul al-Qaeda refugees will not allow Afghanistan to become a haven for terrorists.

An agreement between the United States and the Taliban will not end Afghanistan's
war on its own, as the rebels will still need to sign an agreement with the US-backed
Kabul government.

"In constant close cooperation with the Government of Afghanistan, we are
committed to achieving a comprehensive peace agreement," Pompeo said in a
statement.

This would include "reduction in violence and ceasefire, ensuring that the Afghan soil
will never be used to intimidate the United States or its allies, and lead the Afghans on
a path to peace. "

Even when the United States and the Taliban have claimed progress in the
negotiations, there has been little change on the ground for Afghans.

Last year, the UN record was the deadliest on record, with at least 3,804 civilian
deaths, including 927 children.

And, according to the UN Office for Human Affairs Liaison Committee (OCHA),
more than 217,000 people were forced to leave home because of fighting during the
first seven months of 2019, causing war. The affected country faced a great need for
humanitarian assistance.

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