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US ‘briefly’ suspends Taliban peace talks after attack on US base

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad speaks at the inauguration of the Ghazi School in Kabul. (US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/U.S. Department of State)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on December 12 said peace negotiations with the Taliban are taking a “brief pause” after the insurgent group staged an attack on the main U.S. military base in the country.

Taliban militants had the previous day struck near the Bagram U.S. military base, killing at least two Afghan civilians and wounding more than 70 other people, including five Georgian soldiers.

The December 11 attack, which included at least one suicide car bombing, came as the United States last week resumed talks with the Taliban — three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted negotiations to end the 18-year war.

“When I met the Talibs today, I expressed outrage about yesterday’s attack on Bagram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians,” the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat tweeted. “#Taliban must show they are willing & able to respond to Afghan desire for peace.”

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Therefore, Khalilzad said, “We’re taking a brief pause for them to consult their leadership on this essential topic.”

The restart of talks had followed Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving visit to see U.S. troops in Afghanistan on November 28, when he voiced hope that “the Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them.”