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UN optimistic about Trump-Taliban talks

Recent comments from Donald Trump have raised hopes that decades of war in Afghanistan are coming to an end

14.02.2020
UN optimistic about Trump-Taliban talks

UNITED NATIONS

The United Nations on Friday expressed optimism that peace talks between the U.S. President Donald Trump administration and the Taliban militant group of Afghanistan marked a “notable step” towards ending decades of conflict there.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres will travel to Pakistan next week for talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan and to thank his government for hosting large numbers of refugees from neighboring Afghanistan these past 40 years.

The UN chief’s visit comes as Trump and his top diplomat Mike Pompeo have described progress in talks with Taliban hardliners that could lead to a peace deal and a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

“We're obviously following very closely what has been going on in these talks and our office in Kabul’s been kept up to date,” UN spokesman Stephan Dujarric said in answer to a question from Anadolu at a press briefing on Friday.

“If this were to succeed, it would obviously be a notable step in bringing peace to the country and the dialogue is vital to paving forward the constructive intra-Afghan negotiations on peace.”

U.S. officials have long been in talks with the Taliban aimed at ending the 18-year war in Afghanistan. On Thursday, Pompeo described a “pretty important breakthrough" in what has been an agonizing, stop-and-start process.

Trump has made pulling U.S. troops out of Afghanistan a top foreign policy goal. As many as 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan after the U.S. intervened to oust the Taliban in 2001 in the wake of the 9/11 terror strikes.

Speaking with reporters, Dujarric said that after some two decades of grueling conflict, it was “important to find ways to reduce the levels of violence in Afghanistan, especially the violence that is harming civilians”.

“In Afghanistan, as in so many other places, the civilians are the people who bear the brunt of it, and we obviously remain committed to supporting an Afghan-led peace process that is inclusive, with the meaningful participation of women and youth,” said Dujarric.

“I think it also bears underscoring that [this process] upholds the human rights of all citizens, including the gains made in regards to women's rights and freedoms and leads to sustainable peace in Afghanistan.”

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