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US: Peace talks with Taliban halted after base attack

Taliban must show willingness and respond to Afghan desire for peace, says top US peace negotiator

Shadi Khan Saif   | 13.12.2019
US: Peace talks with Taliban halted after base attack

KABUL, Afghanistan

Outraged by the Taliban's latest assault in Afghanistan, the top U.S. peace negotiator on Friday announced a pause in peace talks with the group.

In a series of tweets, Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, stressed the Taliban “must show they are willing & able to respond to Afghan desire for peace.”

“When I met the Talibs today, I expressed outrage about yesterday’s attack on Bagram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians,” Khalilzad said.

The U.S. negotiating team is taking a “brief pause for them [the Taliban] to consult their leadership on this essential topic,” he added.

However, Suhail Shaheen, Taliban’s Qatar office spokesman said on Twitter the pause was agreed upon in a meeting between the two sides in “cordial and positive atmosphere.”

At least 5 people were killed and 70 others, mostly civilians, were injured in Afghanistan on Wednesday following an early morning attack on Bagram airbase.

Hours after the attack, the Taliban claimed the responsibility for the assault.

Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump met his Afghan counterpart Ashraf Ghani during a surprise Thanksgiving visit to American troops in Afghanistan, where he said his administration had resumed peace talks with the Taliban.

"The Taliban wants to make a deal and we're meeting with them and we're saying it has to be a cease-fire and they didn't want to do a ceasefire and now they do want to do a ceasefire," Trump said at Bagram airbase.

"I believe it probably will work out that way, and we'll see what happens," he added.

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