President Donald Trump expressed cautious satisfaction over the progress of peace talks with the Taliban in Afghanistan, following six days of talks between the U.S. special envoy for the conflict-wracked country and Taliban negotiators last week.
“Negotiating are proceeding well in Afghanistan after 18 years of fighting,” Trump tweeted on January 30.
“Fighting continues but the people of Afghanistan want peace in this never ending war. We will soon see if talks will be successful?” he also said in a separate tweet.
Trump’s comments come after both the Taliban and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said that "progress" had been made in their talks in Qatar.
In an interview with The New York Times published on January 28, Khalilzad said that the sides had agreed in principle to the "framework" of a peace deal to end the Afghan war.
He said that the draft "framework" calls for the Taliban to prevent international terrorist groups from basing themselves in Afghanistan. That could lead to a full pullout of U.S. forces from the country, but only in return for the Taliban’s entering talks with the Afghan government and agreeing to a lasting cease-fire.
Speaking to reporters in Kabul later in the day, the U.S. envoy said: "There is a lot more work to be done before we can say we have succeeded in our efforts but I believe for the first time I can say that we have made significant progress."
Backed by Western nations, the Western-backed government in Kabul has struggled to fend off a resurgent Taliban and other militant groups.
The Taliban has so far refused to hold direct negotiations with Afghan government officials, whom they dismiss as U.S. "puppets." The militants have said they will only begin talks with the government once a firm date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops has been agreed.