US President Donald Trump said he has accelerated negotiations to end the Afghanistan conflict during his annual State of the Union address
US President Donald Trump said he has accelerated negotiations to end the Afghanistan conflict during his annual State of the Union address

Accelerated negotiations to reach political settlement in Afghanistan: Trump

ANI | Updated: Feb 06, 2019 16:24 IST

Washington DC [USA], Feb 6 (ANI): US President Donald Trump on Tuesday (local time) said he has accelerated negotiations to reach a political agreement to end the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan.
Delivering his annual State of the Union speech in the House of Representatives in the Capitol Building, he said, “In Afghanistan, my administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban. As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism. We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement, but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had announced last month that Washington and the Taliban have agreed in principle to chalk out a framework for a deal that could end the conflict in Afghanistan
Khalilzad had said the Taliban would guarantee that Afghanistan will never be used as a base for terrorism in return for a full American withdrawal from the country and that Taliban concessions must include a ceasefire and agreement to hold talks with the Afghan government.
However, the Taliban does not consider the withdrawal being dependent on the American conditions for a ceasefire or direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government, signalling that Washington's demands may be far-fetched. 
Justifying his decision to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan, Trump said, "Our brave troops have now been fighting in the Middle East for almost 19 years. In Afghanistan and Iraq, nearly 7000 American heroes have given their lives. More than 52,000 Americans have been badly wounded. We have spent more than $7 trillion in the Middle East."
“As a candidate for President, I pledged a new approach. Great nations do not fight endless wars. When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers. Now, as we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home,” Trump said.
Addressing the issue of “illegal alien” immigrants, he said that both Democrats and Republicans have to join forces to confront the “urgent national crisis”.
While welcoming legal immigrants, who he said enrich the nation and strengthen the society, Trump said, “The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”
“Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country. Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control its very dangerous border,” he added.
He also gave paramount importance to “reversing decades of calamitous trade policies” in order to build on an “incredible economic success”.
Trump said his tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports have made it clear that “the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end”.
“I blame our leaders and representatives for allowing this travesty to happen. I have great respect for President Xi, and we are now working on a new trade deal with China. But it must include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit, and protect American jobs,” he said.
He hailed the increasing involvement of women in the economic growth of the country, saying, “No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 per cent of the new jobs created in the last year.”  (ANI)