U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to the head of the Taliban political office on the phone for the first time after Saturday’s signing of a peace deal with Washington, the Afghan Taliban said on Tuesday.
Trump told Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar that U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo would soon speak to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to remove obstacles to implementation of the deal, said Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a statement.
U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and several other members of the Taliban political office were also present during the 35-minute call, Mujahid added.
The Taliban leader assured Trump of “positive bilateral relations” in the future if the deal is implemented, said Mujahid.
For his part, Trump reportedly said the withdrawal of U.S. troops is in the interests of all sides while Washington will be fully involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan in the future.
Earlier Trump said he would soon meet with Taliban leaders.
Baradar welcomed the call and said if the U.S. implements the peace deal, the Taliban and Afghan people will have positive bilateral relations with Washington in the future, said Mujahid.
The Taliban leader stressed that President Trump should not allow anyone to act against the agreement.
“Barader assured the U.S. President that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan intends to maintain good bilateral relations with the U.S. and other countries around the world,” said the statement.
On Sunday President Ghani said that his government had not made any commitment to the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners.
“The release of detainees is not in the domain of the U.S. Only the Afghan government has that authority,” Ghani told reporters.
In response, Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen said that the release of prisoners was essential and described it a first step towards building confidence to move ahead on other aspects of the peace process.
“As per the agreement, both sides would release the prisoners by March 10. We are committed to our promise to release Afghan soldiers and police personnel. The U.S. is obliged to free our 5,000 prisoners,” Shaheen told Anadolu Agency
But intra-Afghan dialogue will take place only after the release of the prisoners, he added.