US-Taliban talks likely to resume but face challenges 18 years after 9/11 terrorist attacks

Americans will today commemorate the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people and injured

Americans will today commemorate the 18th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, which killed almost 3,000 people and injured over 6,000 others.

Although the Trump administration has made withdrawing troops from Afghanistan a key foreign policy aim, about 14,000 troops remain in the country. Over the weekend, plans to host a Taliban delegation in the US were cancelled after the militant group took credit for a suicide car bombing in Kabul that killed twelve, including a US soldier.

The proposed meeting came after nine rounds of talks between US and Taliban negotiators in Doha. A tentative peace deal would have seen the US withdraw 4,500 troops from the country within 20 weeks, in return for Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan would never again be used as a base for terrorism.

Comments today from the US president and his administration on the 9/11 anniversary may signal where the direction of future talks will go. With the Taliban now in control of more territory than at any point before the 2001 US-led invasion, and with both Republicans and Democrats seeking an end to the longstanding conflict, talks will likely resume.

However, any deal that the current administration perceives as concessionary—namely, a deal awarding political power to the Taliban—is unlikely to pass, hampering short-term expectations for progress.

Wake up smarter with an assessment of the stories that will make headlines in the next 24 hours. Download The Daily Brief.