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Afghanistan: Taliban deal?

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By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS ― President Donald Trump put Afghanistan back in the news again after his surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. troops stationed in the embattled South Asian country.

Besides bringing holiday cheer for American forces serving in the 18-year long conflict, the president again offered a conditional olive branch to the Taliban insurgents.

After a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Trump in his classic style stated, "The Taliban wants to make a deal, we'll see if they make a deal." He added, "If they do, they do, if they don't, they don't. That's fine."

The president's broad brush offer to resume long-stalled negotiations with the Taliban militants while offering more style than substance, addressed one of his key objectives, indeed campaign promises; winding down the Afghanistan commitment and reducing America's military footprint.

U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan since late 2001, when George W. Bush, in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, intervened militarily to crush the al-Qaida network and topple their Taliban regime protectors.

Yet 18 years later the ousted Islamic Taliban militants still control large swaths of the country, the central government in Kabul is hopelessly dependent on foreign aid and troops,........

© The Korea Times