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Trump Says He Had 'Very Good Talk' With Taliban Leader


FILE: Taliban chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (front) leaves after peace talks with Afghan senior politicians in Moscow in May 2019.

KABUL – U.S. President Donald Trump held a phone call with a Taliban leader after the two sides signed an agreement aimed at ending the nearly 19-year war in Afghanistan.

“I spoke to the leader of the Taliban today,” Trump told reporters at the White House on March 3. “We had a very good talk.”

Earlier, the Taliban issued a statement saying that the head of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, had held a 35-minute phone call with Trump.

Other members of the Taliban negotiating team, as well as Washington's chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, were present during the call, the statement said.

Under the terms of the agreement signed on February 29 in the Qatari capital, Doha, U.S. and allied forces will leave Afghanistan within 14 months, in return for various security commitments from the Taliban and a pledge to hold talks with the Afghan government -- which the extremist militant group so far has refused to do.

However, the agreement is threatening to unravel over disputes about key issues.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has warned he was not committed to a key clause in the deal involving the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners. The Taliban said it would not take part in intra-Afghan talks until that provision was met.

The extremist militant group has also rejected Kabul’s claim that violence nationwide must remain low during intra-Afghan talks.

With reporting by AP

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