Monday, January 29, 2018
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump told visiting members of the U.N. Security Council today the U.S. would no longer talk with the Taliban after a recent string of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
Trump railed against a series of "atrocities" in Afghanistan and said as a result the U.S. would not engage in any future talks with the Taliban as the administration seeks to end a stalemate in America's longest war.
"Innocent people are being killed left and right. Bombing, in the middle of children, in the middle of families, bombing, killing all over Afghanistan," Trump said. "So we don't want to talk with the Taliban. There may be a time but it's going to be a long time."
The president's comments followed a deadly car bombing attack in Kabul, the Afghan capital, that killed at least 95 people and wounded 158 more. Earlier this month, Americans were killed and injured in the Taliban's 13-hour siege of a hotel in Kabul.
Trump's remarks at the diplomatic luncheon marked a shift in tone on Afghanistan. The U.S. has said previously that any peace talks with the Taliban need to be part of an Afghan-led process, but the U.S. has never precluded talking to the Taliban.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who sat next to the president at the luncheon, has said previously that after an effective military effort, a political settlement including some Taliban might be possible, echoing language from former President Barack Obama's administration. Tillerson had said the U.S. would support peace talks with the Taliban "without preconditions."
Earlier in the month, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who helped organize today's luncheon, said the U.S. policy on Afghanistan was working and the parties were "closer to talks with the Taliban and the peace process than we've seen before."
Several attempts to have peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban have failed.