WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump ruled out on Monday the possibility of a dialogue with the Afghan Taliban until some time in the future after attacks over the past week killed some 150 people in the conflict-ridden Central Asian nation.
“I don’t see any talking taking place. I don’t think we’re prepared to talk right now. It’s a whole different fight over there. They’re killing people left and right. Innocent people are being killed left and right,” Trump told reporters during a White House luncheon with the ambassadors of UN Security Council countries.
“We don’t want to talk to the Taliban. We’re going to finish what we have to finish, what nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it,” Trump said.
Afghanistan is going through one of its bloodiest periods after the end of the NATO combat mission there in 2015.
Last Saturday, 103 people died and more than 200 were wounded in an attack staged by the Taliban using an ambulance loaded with explosives.
That attack came a week after another deadly strike against civilians at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, an attack undertaken by six Taliban fighters that killed more than 20 people, 14 of them foreigners, among them four Americans.
Last August, Trump announced a new strategy for the Afghan fight including increasing the number of US troops stationed there and a harsher stance toward Pakistan, which Washington accuses of aiding the Taliban. According to US media, the Pentagon is planning to deploy 1,000 additional US soldiers in Afghanistan, where already 14,000 US troops are stationed.
At his luncheon with the ambassadors, Trump said he was planning to speak about North Korea, Afghanistan and several Mideast issues, including “how to end” the Syrian conflict and deal with terrorism.