Donald Trump expresses optimism about peace deal with Taliban in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump confirmed Sunday he would sign a peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan if negotiators can work out the final details.

A frequent critic of U.S. military activity in Afghanistan, Trump told reporters at the White House: "We've been over there 19 years. We think they want to make a deal. We want to make a deal."

Earlier this month, the Trump administration reached an initial agreement with the Taliban for a reduction in the deadly attacks, a precursor to a hoped-for Afghanistan peace deal and a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops. 

That initial deal hinges on what officials called "a seven-day reduction in violence" that is reportedly ongoing.

During the negotiations, a government watchdog group reported that the Trump administration is racing through peace talks while neglecting to address a key aspect of Afghanistan's instability: Opium production.

Speaking to reporters as he left the White House on a trip to India, Trump exuded optimism and said "I think it's going to work out" with the Taliban.

"They're tired of fighting," Trump said.

A U.S.-led coalition invaded Afghanistan a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It quickly toppled the Taliban government that had sheltered the 9/11 plotters, but violence has raged in the country in the years since.

More than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan, and more than 20,000 have been wounded in the fighting. Last year, the Pentagon estimated the cost to taxpayers for the war there at $737 billion. 

Some 13,000 U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, their mission split between training Afghan security forces and conducting counter-terrorism missions.

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen, Tom Vanden Brook