August 30, 2019 / 10:34 PM / 23 days ago

Trump says U.S. has good negotiations with Taliban but no deal yet

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event to officially launch the United States Space Command in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., August 29, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday the United States had good negotiations going on with the Taliban but had not yet reached a deal with the Islamist group on U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Trump made the remark to reporters at the White House before leaving for the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

Trump said on Thursday U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan were being reduced to 8,600 but that American forces would remain in the country even if Washington reaches an agreement with the Taliban to end the 18-year war.

The Taliban said on Wednesday it was close to an agreement with U.S. officials on a deal that would see U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban promise that the country would not become a haven for international militants.

Both U.S. and Taliban negotiators have reported progress in their talks in recent weeks, raising the prospect of an end to the conflict. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for peace in Afghanistan, was due to travel from Doha to Kabul this week for a meeting with Afghan leaders.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and ousted its Taliban leaders after they refused to hand over members of the al Qaeda militant group behind the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; editing by Grant McCool

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