Trump holds phone call with Taliban leader Baradar: insurgent spokesman

Trump says had "very good talk" with Taliban leader

(AFP) U.S. President Donald Trump had a phone call with Taliban fighter-turned-negotiator Mullah Baradar, the insurgent group said late Tuesday, days after Washington signed a historic deal with the militants.

Trump held a phone call with a Taliban leader after the two sides signed an agreement aimed at ending the nearly 19-year war in Afghanistan.

“I spoke to the leader of the Taliban today,” Trump told reporters at the White House on March 3. “We had a very good talk.”

Earlier, the Taliban issued a statement saying that the head of the Taliban’s office in Qatar, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, had held a 35-minute phone call with Trump.

"The President of the United States... held a phone call with the Political Deputy of the Islamic Emirate, the respected Mullah Baradar Akhund," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted.

Other members of the Taliban negotiating team, as well as Washington's chief negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, were present during the call, the statement said.

The call came a day after the Taliban ended a partial truce and threw into doubt peace talks between Kabul and the insurgents that are due to begin on March 10.

Under the terms of the agreement signed on Saturday in Doha, foreign forces will quit Afghanistan within 14 months, subject to Taliban security guarantees and a pledge by the insurgents to hold talks with Kabul.

However, the agreement is threatening to unravel over disputes about key issues.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has warned he was not committed to a key clause in the deal involving the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners. The Taliban said it would not take part in intra-Afghan talks until that provision was met.

The extremist militant group has also rejected Kabul’s claim that violence nationwide must remain low during intra-Afghan talks.


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