“The Taliban wants to make a deal. We’ll see if they want to make a deal. It’s got to be a real deal, but we’ll see,” Trump said after he arrived in Afghanistan on Thanksgiving.
The Taliban, he said, only want to resume peace talks because American troops are “doing a great job” in the country.
“That’s the only reason they want to make a deal. So I want to thank you, and I want to thank the Afghan soldiers for really—I’ve spoken to a lot of you today, and you say they’re really fighting hard. I was very impressed with that, actually. So I want to thank you,” the president said.
Speaking to reporters, Trump also said that “we are meeting with them,” referring to the Taliban. “We say it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way,” he added.
Earlier this year, the White House canceled peace negotiations and Trump declared the talks were “dead” after the terrorist organization claimed responsibility for a bombing that left a dozen people dead, including one American, in Kabul.
But on Friday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group is “ready to restart the talks.”
“Our stance is still the same. If peace talks start, it will be resumed from the stage where it had stopped,” Mujahid told the Reuters news agency.
Taliban leaders have been involved in meetings with U.S. officials in Doha, Qatar, for the past week or so and said formal peace talks could resume, the report said.
“We are hoping that Trump’s visit to Afghanistan will prove that he is serious to start talks again. We don’t think he has not much of a choice,” said a senior Taliban commander.
There are currently about 13,000 U.S. forces as well as thousands of NATO troops in the country.
During Thursday’s visit, Trump met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who wrote on Twitter that the two leaders had “discussed the important progress we have jointly made in our military efforts in the battlefield” as well as the necessity of a ceasefire with the Taliban.