President Donald Trump said Monday he doesn’t expect to negotiate with the Taliban anytime soon, condemning the insurgent group for a series of recent attacks in Afghanistan.
Speaking at a White House meeting with ambassadors from United Nations Security Council countries, Trump said Taliban violence has made peace talks impossible for the moment.
“They’re killing people left and right. Innocent people are being killed left and right, bombing in the middle of children, in the middle of families, bombing, killing all over Afghanistan,” Trump told reporters. “So we don’t want to talk with the Taliban.”
“There may be a time, but it’s going to be a long time,” the president added.
Trump’s remarks came hours after a group of gunmen wearing suicide vests assaulted a military academy on the edge of Kabul early Monday morning. The attack, claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate, killed 11 Afghan troops and wounded several others.
It was the the third major attack in Kabul in the past nine days. The two other attacks, both claimed by the Taliban, targeted a highly fortified luxury hotel and a busy street lined by government offices. More than 130 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in the three incidents.
Trump has sought to deploy thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afganistan to help Afghan security forces beat back a stubborn Taliban insurgency. The administration’s strategy hinges on the formation of combat advisory teams, which will deploy to the front lines of the fighting in support of Afghan troops. Pentagon officials have said the goal is for Afghan government forces to control of 80 percent of the country within the next two years.
The presence of additional U.S. troops has not improved the security environment in Kabul, which has been the scene of several devastating attacks on government and civilian targets over the past year. The latest string of attacks has raised fresh fears about whether Afghan security forces can protect the seat of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, let alone the country as a whole.
Following Saturday’s massive vehicle bombing in downtown Kabul, the Taliban said U.S. military would not be able to stop the group from carrying out more attacks against the Afghan government.
“The Islamic Emirate has a clear message for Trump and his hand kissers,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. “If you go ahead with a policy of aggression and speak from the barrel of a gun, do not expect Afghans to grow flowers in response.”
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