Trump says Afghan talks have 'no timeline' despite Taliban optimism

Trump says Afghan talks have 'no timeline' despite Taliban optimism
Although the US and the Taliban appear to be closing in on an agreement, President Donald Trump said at the Group of Sevens summit that it is in 'no rush'.
3 min read
26 August, 2019
President Trump attends the first working session of the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France [Getty]

President Donald Trump says US talks with the Taliban are on "no timeline" for reaching a resolution to the nearly 18-year-old war, which has claimed more than 2,400 American lives.

Trump told reporters Monday at the Group of Seven (G7) summit in France that the US is talking with the Taliban, the Afghan government and others, but is in "no rush" and has "no timeline" for the discussions.

The US and the Taliban appear to be closing in on an agreement under which American troops would withdraw in exchange for guarantees that Afghanistan would not become a haven for other terrorist groups.

The US is trying to get the Taliban to agree to stop fighting and sit down with the Kabul government, but violence has continued with large-scale attacks in the capital.

Meanwhile, President Trump missed a discussion on climate change with other world leaders at the G7 summit.

Trump was scheduled to attend Monday's session on climate, biodiversity and oceans, but his chair was empty during a portion of the meeting reporters were allowed to witness.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that while Trump didn't attend, his aides were there.

The president started the morning behind schedule. His meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was delayed about two hours.

He then met with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, where he was asked about attending the climate session.

He said it would be his next stop and that he wants clean air and water.

In his meeting with Prime Minister Modi, President Trump said he thinks Pakistan and India will be able to work out a resolution over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir on their own without his help.

This year's G7 summit is ending Monday in France and the US is hosting the 2020 gathering of the seven nations. Trump said his private golf resort near Miami is the likely venue for next year's summit.

Although no decision has been made, he claimed no other venue under consideration matches what his resort - Trump National Doral - can offer.

Surprise visit

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif flew into Biarritz in southern France for the G7 summit on Sunday in an unexpected and dramatic attempt to break a diplomatic deadlock over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

"It's too soon to meet, I didn't want to," Trump told reporters at the summit, saying he knew that Zarif was going to drop in for unscheduled talks. 

"I knew he was coming," Trump said of the visit, which was engineered by France's Emmanuel Macron in a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

"I knew everything he (Macron) was doing and I approved everything he was doing," Trump said, adding the French president "asked for my approval".

A landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Western powers and Iran all but collapsed after Trump unilaterally withdrew US support last year, reimposing sanctions that have crippled Iran's economy.

Macron has been trying for months to defuse tensions between Tehran and Washington by finding ways of resuming dialogue. He held talks with Zarif in Paris on the eve of the summit.

Trump insisted that Washington was interested only in curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions. 

"We're not looking for regime change. You see how that works (in other places)," he said. "What we want is very simple... non-nuclear."

The three-day summit will be closed off with a joint news conference Monday.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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