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Trump had ‘very good talk’ with Taliban leader

U.S. President Donald Trump thumbs up as he welcomes Venezuelan National Assembly President and opposition leader Juan Guaido before their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on February 5, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

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

U.S. President Donald 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. We had a good conversation. We’ve agreed there is no violence,” Trump told reporters at the White House on March 3.

“We had, actually, a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban,” he added.

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.

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

Under the terms of the agreement signed on February 29 in the Qatari capital, Doha, U.S. and allied forces will leave Afghanistan within 14 months, in return for various security commitments from the Taliban and a pledge to hold talks with the Afghan government — which the extremist militant group so far has refused to do.

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.

And on March 2, the militant group ordered its fighters to resume operations against Afghan forces, saying that the weeklong partial truce between the Taliban, U.S., and Afghan forces that preceded the Doha agreement was “over.”

The Taliban has since carried out attacks, including an assault on an Afghan military base in the eastern province of Logar on March 3 that killed at least five soldiers.