Taliban: Talks Should Resume From Where They Left Off

Unclear if Trump's talk of ceasefire will be accepted

President Trump’s announcement on Thursday that Afghanistan peace talks have resumed came as a surprise to many, because while there was an apparent process already going on, it wasn’t being made public by anyone.

Taliban officials confirmed that the talks are ongoing, with spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying that they are ready for talks, but that their position is the talks resume where they were previously suspended by President Trump.

Taliban negotiator Suhail Shaheen said much the same thing, saying that it is up to the US to get back to the table to resume the talks that were already nearly successful, and that their positions haven’t changed.

President Trump’s talk of resuming the process was welcomed, but his stance wasn’t entirely clear, as he claimed the obstacle was a ceasefire that the Taliban first refused, and now supposedly wants. Indications are that the US negotiators already knew that was not the case, and told Trump that the demand for a ceasefire was “overly ambitious.”

So while the talks have indeed resumed, Trump is accused of moving the goal posts, and setting the public narrative on the negotiation to expect a ceasefire, even as a negotiating team goes in not expecting that to be part of the deal.

Throughout much of the year, the US-Taliban talks had culminated in a near-deal, with everything apparently in place to end the war. President Trump withdrew and declared those talks “dead” amid reports that a deal would be signed in a matter of days.

Where the US intends to go from here is unclear, as the negotiators clearly had a deal to be made months ago, and it is only President Trump’s decisions that have prevented that. Trump’s new demands for a ceasefire may force some renegotiation.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.