MONITORING (SW) – President Donald Trump was briefed on Friday by top national security advisers on the status of negotiations with the Taliban on a U.S. troop pullout from Afghanistan and the potential for a political settlement between the warring sides.
There was no indication that any conclusions were reached at the session, which took place in a secure conference room at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Reuters reported. “Just completed a very good meeting on Afghanistan. Many on the opposite side of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal - if possible!” Trump said in a tweet after the session.
Trump, who has repeatedly questioned the billions of dollars spent in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, has made no secret of his desire for a U.S. pullout.
But, there are deep concerns among national security aides about negotiations led by U.S. special representative to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who updated Trump and others on the status of the talks.
According to the report, a pullout has raised fears within the U.S. military and among some lawmakers that Afghanistan could plunge into a new civil war that could see a return of Taliban rule and give al Qaeda and other militants a sanctuary in which to expand and plot new attacks on U.S. and allied targets.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters significant differences remained between the United States and the Taliban after an eighth round of talks ended in Qatar on Monday. Some 14,000 U.S. troops remain engaged in America’s longest war, training and advising Afghan security forces and conducting counterinsurgency operations against militant groups such as al Qaeda and Islamic State’s local affiliate.