President Trump confirmed Tuesday that he spoke on the phone to a Taliban leader, making him the first US president believed to ever speak directly with the militant group that harbored al-Qaeda before the 9/11 attacks and is responsible for the deaths of thousands of US troops in nearly 19 years of fighting in Afghanistan, the AP reports. “We had a very good conversation with the leader of the Taliban today, and they're looking to get this ended, and we're looking to get it ended. I think we all have a very common interest,” Trump said. “We had, actually, a very good talk with the leader of the Taliban.” Tuesday's call, which the Taliban said lasted 35 minutes, came days after the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement calling for the withdrawal of American troops—allowing Trump to make progress on a key campaign pledge to extract the US from what he calls “endless wars” and paving the way for all-Afghan talks to begin on Tuesday.
Trump suggested the phone call was not his first. Asked if Tuesday was his first conversation with a leader of the Taliban, Trump said, “I don't want to say that.” Earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that the president had spoken on the phone with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the Taliban and head of their political office in Qatar. “The relationship is very good that I have with the mullah,” Trump said. “We had a good long conversation today and, you know, they want to cease the violence. They'd like to cease violence also.” Trump said it's still unclear what the Afghans will do when and if they sit with the Taliban and attempt to draft a peaceful political future for the nation. “The country really has to get it ended. We've been there for 20 years. Other presidents have tried and they were unsuccessful," he said. (Read more Taliban stories.)