Trump Canceled Secret Talks With Taliban At Camp David


Trump Canceled Secret Talks With Taliban At Camp David

It appears that Trump may have finally moved on from tweeting about Hurricane Dorian slamming Alabama, or maybe not:

In any case, the US president has been busy, and as he revealed in a series of tweets on Saturday night, Trump abruptly called off peace negotiations with the Taliban after accusing them of seeking “false leverage” through a terrorist attack last week that killed 12 people, including a member of the American military.

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In the tweets, Trump disclosed that a secret meeting with Taliban leaders, as well as the president of Afghanistan, had been set for Sunday at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland, but was no longer happening.

Trump had been hoping to strike a deal with the Taliban as he heads into his presidential re-election campaign, allowing him to claim that he had ended 18 years of war and combat in Afghanistan, an achievement that eluded both George W Bush and Barack Obama.

“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David on Sunday,” Trump tweeted.

The breakdown of talks marks a major setback for Trump’s ambitions of restoring peace in Afghanistan; the final, crucial stage revealed by Trump on Saturday had been a closely-held secret.

“They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position?”

As the FT reports, senior US officials, led by veteran diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, have been engaged in reconciliation talks with the Taliban for about a year, and had set this month as their goal for an agreement. Not only has that effort now been put in serious jeopardy, but Trump will also likely face severe criticism for inviting Taliban leaders to the US in the same week as the anniversary of the September 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

The Taliban have so far refused to hold talks with the Kabul government, although the U.S. says the group must do so before any accord is final. The U.S. has proposed tying troop withdrawals to a pledge by the Taliban to prohibit terrorist groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda from using Afghanistan to stage assaults.

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A successful conclusion to the talks with the Taliban has been high on Trump’s foreign policy agenda, prompting a rapprochement between the US and Pakistan in the hopes that Islamabad could help broker the deal. When Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, visited Washington in July, Trump had called America’s military presence in Afghanistan “ridiculous” and said he did not want the US to be a “policeman”.

According to the outline of the deal, which was negotiated in Qatar, the US would start pulling troops out of Afghanistan next spring, with more than 5,000 Americans returning home at that time. The withdrawal was only intended to be partial, however, with more than 8,000 remaining in the country for some time. On their side, the Taliban would commit to ensuring that Afghanistan would no longer be a “safe haven for terrorists”, according to a description of the mooted agreement by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, in June.

The Afghan government, led by president Ashraf Ghani, has been anxious that an excessively rapid exit by US forces could further destabilise the country, undermining the goals of the deal.

The attack on Thursday that caused the talks between Mr Trump and the Taliban to collapse killed 10 civilians as well as two military service members, including one from the US and another from Romania. 

At the time, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani decried the attack in the “strongest terms,” saying that making peace with Taliban militants who are still killing “innocent people is meaningless.”

Trump said in his tweet that he’d planned to meet separately with Taliban leaders and Ghani.

Secretary of State Michael Pompeo is scheduled appearances on five political talk shows on Sunday. The path to a peace agreement that could end what has become America’s longest war had been expected to be a major talking component of his interviews.

Tyler Durden

Sat, 09/07/2019 – 21:58


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