WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Sunday he’s ready to sign a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan if a temporary truce holds in America’s longest war. “Time to come home,” he said.
“They want to stop. You know, they’ve been fighting a long time. They’re tough people. We’re tough people,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a trip to India. “But after 19 years, that’s a long time.”
The two sides earlier this month announced the truce, which took effect last Friday and set the stage for a broader deal aimed at ending 18 years of war in Afghanistan and bringing U.S. troops home.
If the truce proves a success, it will be followed by the signing of the peace accord on Saturday, wrapping up the United States’ longest-running conflict and fulfilling one of Trump’s chief campaign promises.
“We think they want to make a deal. We want to make a deal. I think it’s going to work out. We’ll see,” Trump said.
For the Taliban, the successful completion of the truce and Afghanistan peace talks would give the militants a shot at international legitimacy, which they lacked at the time they ran the country and gave Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida associates safe haven.
U.S. officials have noted the possibility that “spoilers” uninterested in peace talks could disrupt the truce. Determining who is responsible for potential attacks during the seven days will therefore be critical.
On Sunday, Trump expressed cautious optimism about reaching a peace deal.
“You know we have a certain period of nonviolence. It’s been holding up, it’s a day and a half so we’ll see what happens. But people want to make a deal, and I think the Taliban wants to make a deal too, they’re tired of fighting.’’
There are more than 12,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.