President Donald Trump spoke with Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar following the recent signing of an Afghanistan withdrawal agreement, the Taliban announced in a news release on Tuesday.
The U.S. government and the Taliban signed an agreement on Feb. 29 that calls on all U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan over the next 14 months if the Taliban meet certain conditions, such as fighting Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
That same day, the president said he would personally meet with Taliban leaders “in the not-too-distant future,” but did not specify when.
The Taliban claims that Trump spoke to Baradar for 35 minutes, during which the president allegedly told Baradar that the U.S. military had been in Afghanistan for 19 years and withdrawing all foreign troops from the country was in everyone’s best interest, according to the Taliban news release.
Women’s issues were also discussed “at length,” according to the news release, which says the conversation took place “yesterday” but does not specify if that was Monday or Tuesday local time.
The president confirmed to reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he had spoken with the Taliban.
“We don't want violence,” Trump said, according to a White House press pool report. “We will see what happens.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Monday that he has given the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan permission to begin drawing down from about 13,000 to roughly 8,600 troops under the agreement with the Taliban, even though attacks in the country persist.
“My instruction to the commander was: Let’s get moving. Let’s show our full faith and effort to do that,” Esper said at a Monday Pentagon news briefing.