Taliban travels to Moscow after Trump declares talks dead

A negotiating team from the Taliban traveled to Moscow on Friday days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign: Castro ‘got the facts wrong’ McCabe’s counsel presses US attorney on whether grand jury decided not to indict The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Sights and sounds from Houston debate MORE called talks between Washington and the group “dead.”

A Taliban representative confirmed the visit to The Associated Press and Russian state media said the delegation spoke with Zamir Kabulov, President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinDemocrats must engage foreign policy to preserve liberal world order Russia raids scores of homes, offices of Putin critic’s supporters Bolton’s principles clashed with too many Trump policies MORE’s envoy for Afghanistan.

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The Interfax News agency, citing a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the meeting underscored the Taliban’s “readiness” to continue speaking with the U.S.

The trip to Moscow was the first international visit for the Taliban since talks with Washington broke down. 

Trump this week said peace talks with the Taliban are “dead” following a surprise announcement that he canceled scheduled talks with the group at Camp David after a Taliban attack killed 12 people in Afghanistan, including a U.S. soldier. Some GOP lawmakers had also expressed concerns over hosting the group for peace talks on U.S. soil just days before the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Prior to the collapse of the talks, the U.S. was negotiating with the Taliban to hash out a deal that would see a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan in exchange for assurances that the country would not revert to a safe haven for terrorist groups. 

It is now unclear if the president intends to scale back the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan in the absence of a deal with the Taliban, telling reporters he was “looking at” whether to move forward with some kind of withdrawal, saying, “We’d like to get out, but we’ll get out at the right time.” 

Russia hosted meetings with the Taliban and Afghan personalities twice this year, according to the AP. Moscow has been accused of aiding the armed group as a guardrail against a growing ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.