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Taliban denies endorsing Donald Trump

Afghan militant group says CBS misrepresented its words

Emily Goddard
Sunday 11 October 2020 11:44 BST
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Donald Trump takes his mask off before speaking from the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC during a rally on 10 October
Donald Trump takes his mask off before speaking from the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC during a rally on 10 October (AFP via Getty Images)
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The Taliban has denied endorsing Donald Trump after reports emerged claiming the Afghan militant group had said it hoped the US president would be re-elected.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Taliban, was reported to have supported Mr Trump’s bid to remain in the White House and expressed concern over his health.

CBS News quoted Zabihullah Mujahid to have said during a phone interview: “We hope he will win the election and wind up US military presence in Afghanistan.”

The American news outlet also said another Taliban senior leader told them: “When we heard about Trump being Covid-19 positive, we got worried for his health, but seems he is getting better.”

In response, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said they “reject” the Taliban support, adding: “The Taliban should know that the president will always protect American interests by any means necessary.”

But the Taliban also appeared to reject the comments as Mr Mujahid published a “clarification” on Sunday, saying CBS “misinterpreted and misrepresented my words”.

“US news outlet @CBSNews has interpreted and published my remarks incorrectly. Nothing of the sort has been communicated as publicised by them,” he wrote on Twitter.

Mr Trump announced in a tweet on Thursday that he wants to bring US troops serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas.

Such a move to withdraw the remaining 5,000 troops and ending 19 years of US military presence in the country would likely be claimed as a victory by the Taliban.

The US deal with the Taliban had scheduled the withdrawal of troops by May 2021, subject to certain security guarantees.

Mr Trump said the US was “dealing very well with the Taliban” after Taliban and Afghan government peace negotiators held their first formal meeting to end two decades of war in September.

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