Trump says talks with Taliban ‘constructive’

Trump says talks with Taliban ‘constructive’

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that talks with Afghanistan´s Taliban were making headway as he voiced cautious hope for a negotiated end to America´s longest war.

“My administration is holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban,” Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress, weighing “a possible political solution to this long and bloody conflict.” The Taliban claimed Wednesday that the United States agreed in Doha to withdraw half its ground troops by the end of April — and the process had begun.

“The Americans agreed to withdraw half of their troops immediately. The withdrawal will start from February 1 and continue until end of April,” Abdul Salam Hanefi, deputy head of the Taliban´s political office in Doha, told reporters in Moscow.

Trump told Congress that Washington´s aggressive trade negotiations with Beijing would mean an end to China´s alleged “theft” of US jobs and wealth. In his annual State of the Union address, Trump also called on China to make the kind of far-reaching “structural” changes to industrial policy that analysts say Beijing is likely to resist.

Washington and Beijing have slapped punishing tariffs on more than $360 billion in two-way trade, which has weighed on the two countries´ manufacturing sectors and sent jitters through global markets.

Trump vowed that the United States would outspend Russia on missiles without a fresh international accord after he ditched a landmark Cold War treaty.

Trump´s warning during his annual State of the Union address cemented fears of an emerging arms race, with Russia hours earlier pledging to design new missiles over the next two years. “Under my administration, we will never apologise for advancing America´s interests,” Trump told US lawmakers assembled in the House chamber.

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