Confusion in Afghanistan

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President Donald Trump meets with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo DRIVING THE DAY
ABOUT THAT TRIP TO AFGHANISTAN -- “In Afghanistan, Trump Creates Confusion Over U.S. Policy on Taliban,” by NYT’s Mujib Mashal in Kabul, Afghanistan: “After abruptly axing nearly a year of delicate peace talks with the Taliban in September, President Trump put the negotiations back on the front-burner this week in a similarly jolting fashion by seeming to demand a cease-fire that his negotiators had long concluded was overly ambitious.
“Despite a sense of relief at the prospect of resuming talks to end the 18-year conflict, Western diplomats and Taliban leaders were scrambling to figure out whether Mr. Trump had suddenly moved the goal posts for negotiations. They were particularly confused by his remarks, made during an unannounced Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan, that the United States was once again meeting with the Taliban to discuss a deal, but that ‘we’re saying it has to be a cease-fire.’
“Demanding a cease-fire would amount to a big shift in the American position and require a significant new concession from the Taliban — one that the Americans have little leverage to extract.” NYT
-- WHERE THINGS STAND via WaPo’s Karen DeYoung and Susannah George: “[O]n Friday neither the Taliban nor the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani indicated that a cease-fire was near, or even being discussed in resumed U.S. negotiations.
“At the time the U.S.-Taliban talks ended, the two sides were preparing to sign a draft agreement that called for a reduction in violence. But it specifically declared that any discussion of a cease-fire was to be left to follow-on negotiations between the militants and the government in Kabul.
“In a statement, the Taliban said that remains its understanding. ‘We are ready to talk, but we have the same stance to resume the talks from where it was suspended,’ Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Post. Ghani spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said Trump’s brief visit to Afghanistan was ‘important’ but that ‘we will have to see’ whether there has been any change in the status of peace talks.” WaPo POLITICO Playbook newsletter Sign up today to receive the #1-rated newsletter in politics Email Sign Up By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
THE LATEST ON IMPEACHMENT … “Nadler Sets Dec. 6 Deadline for White House to Participate in Impeachment Probe,” by WSJ’s Alex Leary: “President Trump has until Dec. 6 to decide whether his legal team will participate in the impeachment proceedings, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Friday, marking Democratic lawmakers’ latest effort to solicit White House involvement in an inquiry with which the administration has declined to cooperate.
“Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) sent a letter Friday to Mr. Trump outlining the next step in the impeachment process, with Mr. Nadler’s committee due to receive a report on evidence and testimony collected so far by the House Intelligence Committee.
“That report is scheduled to be delivered soon after Congress resumes following its Thanksgiving recess. In anticipation of lawmakers’ return to Capitol Hill, Mr. Nadler wants to know if the president will exercise the rights afforded to him under the House rules governing the impeachment process.” WSJ
-- WAPO’S PHIL RUCKER in Palm Beach, Fla.: “Trump’s photo op play: Facing impeachment, the president strives to look hard at work” : “Trump has been consumed by the impeachment proceedings, popping off daily, if not hourly, about what he dubs a “hoax.” But he and his aides also have staged photo opportunities and public events designed to showcase the president on the job — a strategy one year out from the election to convince the American people that he is hard at work for them at the same time that Democrats are trying to remove him from office.
“Trump is taking a page out of the Clinton playbook . Then-President Bill Clinton survived his 1998 impeachment in part because the economy was roaring and because he appeared to many voters to be relentlessly focused on doing the business of the American people. When Clinton left office in 2001, Gallup measured his job approval rating at 66 percent.”
-- A LOOK AT REP. FRED UPTON: “Impeachment may complicate 2020 for lonely Michigan moderate,” by AP’s Sara Burnett in Kalamazoo, Mich. A message from PhRMA:
Speaker Pelosi’s drug pricing plan could lead to the permanent loss of roughly 1 million jobs. Get the facts .
Good Saturday ...