US President Donald Trump has ruled out talks with the Taliban and vowed to “finish” them following a wave of deadly attacks in strife-torn Afghanistan that killed over 130 people. Meeting a delegation of UN Security Council ambassadors at the White House yesterday, he said, “We do not want to talk with the Taliban. There may be a time, but it’s going to be a long time.” The luncheon meeting with the members of the UNSC was taking place in the backdrop of two deadly terrorist attacks by the Taliban in Kabul recently, including the use of an ambulance by a suicide bomber that killed more than 100 people. “They are 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 said. Trump did not specify what he has in mind, but suggested that a stronger military response is imminent. “What nobody else has been able to finish we’re going to be able to do it,” he said.
The militants have stepped up attacks on Afghan troops and police in recent months. Islamic State militants yesterday attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul killing at least 11 troops and wounding 16. On January 20, Taliban militants stormed Kabul’s landmark Intercontinental hotel and killed at least 25 people, mostly foreigners. In the meeting with the members of the UNSC, Trump said the group would discuss a range of security challenges, including the “de-nuking” of North Korea, countering Iran’s destabilisation activities in the Middle East, ending the Syrian conflict and confronting terrorism. Meanwhile, the Pentagon and America’s top diplomat to the UN insisted that deadlly attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan in recent days does not mean that the terrorist organisation has gained an upper hand in the war-torn country.
“The Taliban is receding after the US came out and said we are not going to talk about a timeline,” the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told ABC News in an interview. She said the South Asia policy announced by President Donald Trump last August is working. “We are coming and we’re staying to make sure we find peace in Afghanistan. It no longer harbors terrorism and the Taliban is receding. So things are moving in the right direction,” Haley said. The Pentagon echoed Haley. “Absolutely not,” Army Col Rob Manning, Pentagon spokesman, told reporters during an off camera news conference. “They (the Taliban) are murderous. They prove this weekend and this morning that their actions against innocent civilians are both unwarranted and frankly disgusting,” he said.
“We’re going to continue to work with our allies and partners in the region as we take that regional approach to the South Asia strategy to prevent the Taliban from those types of activities again,” Manning said. Manning said, “I can’t draw that parallel” when asked if the Pentagon believes that the uptick the Taliban attack is related to the Pentagon’s decision to withhold USD 900 million in coalition support fund assistance to Pakistan.”
The Trump administration has suspended USD 2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan for failing to clamp down on the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network terror groups and dismantle their safe havens. “We hope that Pakistan will continue to work with us on all matters regarding the South Asia strategy specifically terrorism going forward,” he said.