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US-Taliban Talks Pause After Attack on US Airbase

US-Taliban Talks Pause After Attack on US Airbase

DOHA – US Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on December 12 said peace negotiations with the Taliban are taking a “brief pause” after the insurgent group staged an attack on the main US military base in the country.
Taliban militants had the previous day struck near the Bagram US military base, killing at least two Afghan civilians and wounding more than 70 other people, including five Georgian soldiers.
The December 11 attack, which included at least one suicide car bombing, came as the United States last week resumed talks with Taliban – three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted negotiations to end the 18-year war.
“When I met the Talibs today, I expressed outrage about yesterday’s attack on Bagram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians,” the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat tweeted. “#Taliban must show they are willing & able to respond to Afghan desire for peace.”
Therefore, Khalilzad said, “We’re taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic.”
Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen said Friday’s meeting was “very good and friendly”.
“Both sides decided to resume the talks after a few days of break for consultation,” he said.
The assault on Bagram airbase came despite the resumption of talks between the US and the group days before in Doha.
Peace negotiations began earlier this year but were suspended in September after an American soldier was killed in a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban.
The restart of talks had followed Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving visit to see US troops in Afghanistan on November 28, when he voiced hope that “the Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them.”
Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians, security officials and more than 2,400 American service members have been killed since 2001 when a US-led military coalition dislodged Taliban from power.
About 13,000 US forces, along with thousands of other NATO troops, are stationed in Afghanistan, with US officials considering reducing the troop strength as part of any future peace deal.
But the Taliban has set the withdrawal of the US and NATO troops, whom it calls occupying forces, as a condition to strike a deal.
(Sahar News)

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