KARACHI: Afghan Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Baradar Akhund held a phone call with US President Donald Trump a few days after the two sides signed a troop withdrawal agreement in Doha, the Taliban’s spokesman said on Tuesday.
“The President of the United States Trump @realDonaldTrump held a phone conversation with the Political Deputy of the Islamic Emirate, the respected Mullah Baradar Akhund. Details later,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Twitter, adding in an emailed statement the call lasted more than 30 minutes.
The landmark deal signed in Doha, Qatar on Feb 29 lays out a timetable for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months.
The agreement is expected to lead to dialogue between the Taliban and the Kabul government, seeking an end to the armed conflict that began in 2001.
The Taliban agreed to halt attacks in the war-torn country in return for a prisoner swap and the US lifting sanctions against them.
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“In the presence of a number of members of the negotiation team and [US point man on Afghan peace process] Zalmay Khalilzad, Mullah Baradar welcomed the first contact of the US president,” Mujahid said in a statement.
Baradar assured the US president of “positive future bilateral relations” if the United States honored the recently-inked agreement.
Mullah Baradar said: “Mr. President! Take determined actions in regards to the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and do not allow anyone to take actions that violate the terms of the agreement thus embroiling you even further in this prolonged war”.
The chief Taliban negotiator further said that “national sovereignty and establishing a government of our own choosing in our homeland is the legitimate right of Afghans, therefore, terms of the agreement must immediately be implemented, comprehensive peace established and the Afghan people gave their basic rights”.
Baradar, the political deputy of the Islamic Emirate, also sought “complete rehabilitation assistance” for the war-torn country, telling Trump that “this appropriate action shall positively affect the status of the United States”.
Calling the Taliban “a tough people”, the US president said the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan was in everyone’s interest.
“It is a pleasure to talk to you. You are a tough person and have a great country and I understand that you are fighting for your homeland. We have been there for 19 years and that is a very long time and withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan now is in the interest of everyone,” he was quoted by Mujahid as saying.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo would soon speak with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in order to remove all hurdles facing the intra-Afghan negotiations, Trump told Baradar and assured him of taking “complete part in the future rehabilitation of Afghanistan”.
“Extensive discussions were also held about the implementation of the agreement concluded by both sides,” Mujahid concluded.