Updated Mar 3, 2020 - World

Trump speaks with Taliban leader, claims "very good" relationship

It's no Nixon to China moment, but President Trump made history today with what is apparently the first presidential phone call with a top Taliban leader.

Why it matters: The prospect of a peaceful end to America's longest war is on the line.

What they're saying:

  • The Taliban's Twitter account got the scoop: "#Breaking 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."
  • Trump later commented: “We’ve agreed there’s no violence. We don’t want violence. We’ll see what happens.”
  • "We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today they're looking to get this ended ... the country really has to get it ended, we've been there for 20 years ... the relationship I have is very good with the Mullah," Trump said.

The big picture: The deal Trump struck with the Taliban will not bring peace to the country anytime soon, Pentagon leaders acknowledged yesterday.

  • The Taliban has declared its “reduction in violence” over and says it will continue operations against Afghan troops.
  • Afghanistan’s president has objected to the deal’s condition that 5,000 Taliban prisoners be released.
  • The Afghan government said more than 20 people — including civilians, troops and insurgents — had been killed in a series of attacks in the 24 hours after the Taliban resumed offensive operations.
  • The Trump administration says its deal with the Taliban is intended to set the stage for a larger deal on Afghanistan’s future with the government in Kabul.

The bottom line: That larger deal looks a long way off

Go deeper: In Afghanistan, a deal but no peace

Go deeper

In Afghanistan, a deal but no peace

Taliban fighters celebrate the deal. Photo: Wali Sabawoon/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Today offered an immediate reminder that while a deal was struck Saturday for the U.S. to begin to leave Afghanistan, peace remains elusive.

Driving the news: The Taliban said it had resumed offensive operations against Afghan forces following a "reduction in violence" during negotiations.

Go deeperArrowMar 3, 2020 - World

U.S. troops begin withdrawing from Afghanistan

Afghani President Ashraf Ghani. Photo: Sayed Khodaiberdi Sadat/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan on Tuesday under the peace agreement signed by the U.S. and Taliban last month, reports the AP.

The state of play: The move comes amid ongoing political tensions in Afghanistan as Kabul hosted two presidential inaugurations on Monday, with both incumbent Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah continuing to insist that they won the last election.

Go deeperArrowMar 10, 2020 - World

International Criminal Court allows Afghanistan war crimes investigation

The International Criminal Court in The Hague. Photo: Martijn Beekman/AFP via Getty Images

International Criminal Court judges ruled on Thursday that prosecutors can open investigations into allegations of war crimes committed by the Taliban, Afghan forces and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the AP reports.

Why it matters: It's the first time that ICC judges have allowed prosecutors to investigate U.S. forces, but Washington does not recognize the court's jurisdiction and may refuse to cooperate.

Go deeperArrowMar 5, 2020 - World