- The Washington Times
Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Taliban is extending an invitation to Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, to their political office in Doha, to discuss possible peace plans to end the 17-year Afghan war.

The invitation, proposed on the terror group’s social media accounts under the moniker of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” was extended in response to Mr. Paul’s recent comments on the status of the war.

“We invite the respectable U.S. Senator Rand Paul, in his official capacity to visit our political office in Doha for mutual talks,” the Twitter post by the Information Committee of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan read.

“We’ll prove to Mr. Rand Paul, the immediate US withdrawal from [Afghanistan] will bring peace to our country & will enhance international security,” the group added in the social media post.

During an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Sen. Paul lambasted Washington’s continued investment in the Afghan conflict, with no clear endgame in sight. “The war in Afghanistan is costing us $50 billion a year… It’s time to come home. There is no military victory there,” Mr. Paul said.

Mr. Paul is one of several lawmakers who have voiced opposition to the war in Afghanistan, as the White House looks to implement a more aggressive military strategy in the country.

President Trump expressed overt support for negotiations with the Taliban, and its potential political role in a postwar Afghanistan, during a primetime address to the nation unveiling his new strategy for the region in August. But Mr. Trump walked back support for talks last month after a series of deadly attacks in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

“I don’t think we’re prepared to talk right now. It’s a whole different fight over there. They’re killing people left and right. Innocent people are being killed left and right,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House at the time.

Nearly 14,000 American forces are on the ground in Afghanistan as part of the White House surge of an additional 3,900 troops into the country — a key element of the administration’s new war plan.

The Trump White House also expanded commanders’ authority to conduct combat operations against the Taliban or other extremists in the country, as well as abandoning the Obama-era withdrawal deadlines for a “conditions-based” approach.

• Carlo Muñoz can be reached at cmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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