ISLAMABAD — The Taliban are assailing President Donald Trump’s rejection of peace talks, interpreting his assertion that “there’s no talking to the Taliban” as a dictate to the Afghan government.
“The true authority of war and peace is not with the Kabul regime, but with the American invaders,” the group said in an English-language statement released Tuesday.
The Taliban, who do not recognize the government in Kabul, have said they are willing to negotiate an end to the Afghan war in direct talks with the United States, something Washington has long rejected.
President Donald Trump told visiting members of the U.N. Security Council on Monday the U.S. would no longer talk with the Taliban following a recent string of deadly attacks in Afghanistan.
The Taliban said that while peace talks remain an option, Trump’s veto of them would most likely result in more war and bloodshed.
Trump on Monday railed against the recent “atrocities” in Afghanistan, which has seen a wave of devastating attacks in recent weeks claimed by the Taliban and a rival Islamic State affiliate.
In a new strategy announced last August, the Trump administration said it was open to eventual Afghan-led peace talks with the Taliban as a way to end America’s longest war.
The Islamic State group and the Taliban are competing to take credit for a horrific spike in violence in Afghanistan over the last month, and analysts say both insurgent groups are growing in strength as security forces wither under their relentless attacks and a feuding government struggles to win over citizens.
When asked about Trump’s remarks during a visit to Kabul on Tuesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said “there is not a change in our policy.”
“Support for Afghan partners will continue until those conditions which were laid out in the policy, where we have the Taliban willing to come to the negotiating table to negotiate a peaceful resolution of the conflict here, that policy remains in effect,” he said.