Afghanistan says Taliban crossed a ‘red line’ as Trump rejects talks

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FILE PHOTO - Afghan security forces keep watch as smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul,Afghanistan, January 21, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
Afghan
security forces keep watch as smoke rises from the
Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul,ÊAfghanistan

Thomson Reuters

  • Afghanistan said on Tuesday the Taliban would have to
    be defeated after Trump rejected the idea of talks with the
    militants.
  • The Taliban has recently pulled off a few horrific
    bombings, including using an ambulance as a bomb to kill more
    than 100
  • President Donald Trump’s administration is putting
    pressure on anyone who has contacts with the Taliban, trying to
    force them to negotiate. 

KABUL/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Afghanistan said on Tuesday
the Taliban would have to be defeated on the battlefield after
U.S. President Donald Trump rejected the idea of talks with the
militants following a series of deadly attacks.

The Taliban reacted to Trump’s announcement by saying they never
wanted to talk to the United States anyway, but one senior member
of the group said he suspected efforts would still be made to get
negotiations going.

Talking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump
condemned the militant group for recent carnage in Kabul and said
the United States was not prepared to talk now. He pledged to
“finish what we have to finish”.

His comments suggested he sees a military victory over the
Taliban, an outcome that U.S. military and diplomatic officials
say cannot be achieved with the resources and manpower he has
authorized.

A spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said while the
government had encouraged the Taliban to talk, the attacks in
Kabul, including a suicide bomb attack on Saturday that killed
more than 100 people, was a “red line”.

“The Taliban have crossed a red line and lost the chance for
peace,” said the spokesman, Shah Hussain Murtazawi.

“We have to look for peace on the battlefield. They have to be
marginalized.”

He declined to comment directly on Trump’s announcement.

A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said they never wanted
to hold peace talks with the United States anyway.

Trump last year ordered an increase in U.S. troops, air strikes
and other assistance to Afghan forces.

‘Public consuption’


Taliban Afghan Security Forces Afghanistan
Afghan
security forces take position during a gun battle between Taliban
and Afghan security forces in Laghman province, Afghanistan March
1, 2017.

REUTERS/Parwiz

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said this
month the strategy was working and pushing the insurgents closer
to talks.

That was before a suicide bomber penetrated the highly guarded
center of Kabul on Saturday and detonated an ambulance laden with
explosives, killing more than 100 people and wounding at least
235.

That attack followed a brazen Taliban assault on the city’s
Intercontinental Hotel on Jan. 20, in which more than 20 people,
including four Americans, were killed.

The Taliban said the attacks were a message to Trump that his
policy of aggression would not work.

Another Taliban member said the United States had been
approaching states that have relations with the Taliban to try to
get them to push the insurgents to the negotiating table.

“President Trump is saying this for public consumption,” the
‎Taliban member, who declined to be identified, said of Trump’s
rejection of talks. “He and his team are making every effort to
bring us to the negotiating table.

“Actually, the latest attack in Kabul awakened President Trump
and his puppets in Afghanistan about the capability of the
Taliban and their ability to mount big attacks anywhere.”

The Taliban, fighting to oust foreign forces and impose their
version of Islamic rule, refer to the Afghan government as U.S.
“puppets”.

The United States believes the Haqqani network, a faction within
the Taliban, was behind Saturday’s bomb blast in Kabul.

It and Afghanistan have long accused Pakistan of supporting the
Taliban, and the Haqqani network in particular, as assets to be
used in its bid to limit the influence of old rival India in
Afghanistan.

This month, Trump ordered big cuts in security aid to Pakistan
over its failure to crack down on militants.

Pakistan denies accusations it fosters the Afghan war, and
condemned the recent attacks in Afghanistan.



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