Trump’s decision to call of negotiations was “surprising” and “astonishing” for Taliban: Spokesman

The US President Donald Trump’s decision to call off negotiations with the group was “surprising” and “astonishing”, a spokesman of the Taliban political office in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, said.

He said they were preparing for the signing of a peace deal which was “finalized in principle” when they heard about the move.

“It was astonishing for us because we had already concluded the peace agreement with the American negotiating team,” he said. “One copy of the agreement was given to the Qatari side, we got one copy and one copy was with the American team. And after that, Mullah Sahib Bradar, thechief of the political office, and deputy Amir of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for political affairs, and his team had a meeting with Dr. [Zalmay Khalilzad] and Gen. Scott Miller. They were happy with this agreement and they talked about the ceremony of signing the peace agreement. Amidst that, the [Trump] tweet very surprising and astonishingfor us.”

Taliban is ready for negotiations with Afghans, but a ceasefire will be possible when all foreign forces leave the country, Shaheen said in an interview in Al Jazeera on Sept. 12.

“About other Afghans, we are ready to talk with them if there is ceasefire with them, there will be no attack [against] them. This is another aspect ofthe Afghan issue,” Shaheen said.

According to him, the two sides were discussing the venue and date of thesigning ceremony of the peace deal when the US President Trump tweetedabout stopping the talks with the Taliban.

Shaheen said that at first, Taliban has decided to reduce violence when theUS has started withdrawing its forces from the country.

He said they wanted to provide the US a “safe passage” for withdrawal.

“The president has said since his campaign days his goal was achieving peace in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus told reporters on Thursday.

Recently, as per a survey by The Balance from Brown University shows that America’s war in Afghanistan has cost $975 billion.

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