President Trump rejects negotiations with the Taliban
U.S. President Donald Trump has rejected the possibility of negotiations with the Taliban anytime soon following a series of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
"We don't want to talk with the Taliban," Trump said at a Jan. 29 luncheon with representatives of the UN Security Council. "There may be a time, but it's going to be a long time."
Kabul, in recent weeks, has been hit by several deadly assaults, including a massive suicide car bombing in a crowded central area on Jan. 27 that killed more than 100 people and was claimed by the Taliban.
U.S. Army Capt. DeShane Greaser stands in a crater caused by a bomb dropped during an air strike conducting a Battle Damage Assessment outside a combat outpost in Afghanistan. (Image from Wikimedia Commons)
At least 235 other people were wounded in the attack, including more than 30 police officers.
Following that attack, Trump called for "decisive action" by all countries against the Taliban, saying in a statement that the "murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners."
Speaking at the White House on Jan. 29, Trump said: "We're going to finish what we have to finish" in Afghanistan.
He added that "innocent people are being killed left and right," including children, and that "there's no talking to the Taliban."
Several Americans were killed and injured earlier this month in the 13-hour siege of a Kabul hotel claimed by the Taliban.
Afghan officials, along with the Trump administration, have accused neighboring Pakistan of providing a safe haven for terrorists operating in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.
Early this month, Washington announced it was suspending security assistance to the Pakistani military until it took "decisive action" against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network that are operating in Afghanistan. U.S. officials said the freeze could affect $2 billion worth of assistance.
Captain Tom Gresback, a U.S. military spokesman for the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, said on Jan. 29 that Washington is "very confident the Taliban Haqqani network" was behind the deadly suicide bombing in Kabul over the weekend.
The United States has long said the Haqqani network has found safe haven in Pakistan.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on Jan. 29 that Islamabad "is extending whatever help and assistance is required" to combat terrorism.
"Our desire and support is for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and the early resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan," Faisal said.
He added that Pakistan has "very limited influence" on the Taliban, "if any."
A Marine fire team return to base after a routine patrol in Afghanistan. (Image from Wikipedia Commons)
The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups — including Islamic State extremists — since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.
Trump in August unveiled his new strategy for the South Asia region, under which Washington has deployed 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan to train, advise, and assist local security forces, and to carry out counterterrorism missions.
The United States currently has around 14,000 uniformed personnel in the country.