White House National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said that US President Donald Trump could reach a deal with the Taliban movement already this year and even if there was no deal, Washington would still reduce its contingent in Afghanistan.
“The Afghan forces are doing better, and I think we’ll be in a position at some point soon, whether it’s with a deal or without a deal, to reduce our military footprint in Afghanistan”, O’Brien said in an interview with the Axios news portal.
In response to the question of whether Trump was going to conclude an agreement with the Taliban before the presidential election in the United States, O’Brien said that this could happen this year.
“I don’t judge things based on when the election’s going to take place, but I think it is possible that there’ll be a deal this year”, the media outlet quoted the national security adviser as saying.
“The president said there has to be a reduction in violence prior to the signing of a deal and there needs to be a reduction of violence and immediate transition to inter-Afghan talks after a deal,” O’Brien added. “Ultimately it’s going to be up to the Afghans to bring peace to Afghanistan.”
In the meantime, according to NBC News, the US officials said, “Trump has long threatened to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan, but his repeated emphasis in recent weeks on the need to end all foreign wars has infused a new sense of urgency into the renewed Pentagon effort.”
Earlier in the week, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Qatar for a new round of bilateral peace talks with the Taliban, with many leading Afghan officials hopeful that a binding agreement can be signed between the two sides.
Trump had invited the Taliban to Camp David ahead of the Sept. 11 anniversary in 2019, but it was ultimately canceled and reworked.