President Donald Trump canceled negotiations with the Taliban after a bloody attack in Kabul which killed several people including an American service member. As it turns out President Trump announced on Saturday that he canceled a secret meeting at Camp David with Taliban leaders and the president of Afghanistan and canceled negotiations with Taliban that had appeared to be nearing a peace deal.
The Afghan government Saturday welcomed a pledge by the Pentagon that the US would only accept a “good deal” from the Taliban after a wave of insurgent attacks sparked concerns of a hasty US withdrawal.
During a wide-ranging press conference in Paris previous Saturday US Defense Secretary Mark Esper tried to reduce fears that Washington was looking for a fast exit from Afghanistan as it inches closer to a potential deal with the Taliban.
“My view, the US view is that the best way forward is a political agreement and that’s what we’re working diligently on right now,” Esper said journalists. “That doesn’t mean we’ll take any deal, but we want to make sure we have a good deal, a good enough deal that guarantees at least the security of our countries going forward and a brighter future for the Afghan people.”
The remarks were welcomed warmly in Afghanistan where the Taliban in the past week have attacked several countrified capitals and targeted Kabul with suicide bombers.
“The Afghan Government welcomes the latest remarks made by the Pentagon Chief on AFG peace process,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi wrote on Twitter.
But things changed quickly. The appointment for the deal broke down completely, and Trump trumped everything.
President Donald Trump said Saturday he canceled negotiations with the Taliban and Afghanistan leaders after a bombing this week in Kabul that killed 11 people, including an American soldier, and has called off peace negotiations with the insurgent group.
On Thursday, a Taliban car bomb exploded and killed an American soldier, a Romanian service member and 10 civilians in a busy diplomatic area near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. The bombing was one of many attacks by the Taliban in recent days through U.S.-Taliban talks.
The Defense Department states Sgt. 1st Class Elis A., 34-year-old Barreto Ortiz from Morovis, Puerto Rico, was killed in action when the explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was the fourth U.S. service member killed in the past two weeks in Afghanistan.
The Taliban have explained their surge in violent attacks, which have included the capitals of northern Kunduz and Baghlan provinces last weekend, as important to give them a more powerful negotiating position in talks with the U.S. That position has amazed Afghans and others as scores of civilians have been killed.
Khalilzad met with Taliban lead negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, with Qatar’s foreign minister present, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet late in the evening. Both Thursday’s and Friday’s meetings were “positive,” he said.
President Trump said in a Twitter post earlier today “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.”
Moreover, Trump added “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 soldiers, and 11 other people.”
He also continued “I immediately canceled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse! If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill 12 innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway. How many more decades are they willing to fight?”
The Taliban group claimed responsibility for a car bombing in Kabul city on Thursday which killed at least 11 people and wounded 43 others.
Trump would have joined the Taliban at Camp David — the scene of secret 1978 talks as Jimmy Carter brokered peace between Israel and Egypt — days before the 18th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which triggered the US attack that toppled the militants’ regime.
Washington was jolted by the announcement from Trump, who is fond of dramatic gestures but whose Twitter pronouncements have often come into question later.
“The idea that Trump was planning to host Taliban leaders at Camp David is a rather big surprise,” stated Laurel Miller, who served as the US special agent in Afghanistan and Pakistan until early in the Trump administration.
“Why a lethal attack in Kabul on Thursday would be the reason for calling it off, considering the multiple recent Taliban attacks, is unclear,” Miller, now the Asia director of the International Crisis Group, said AFP.
The president’s decision was shocking for various reasons. A surprise summit at Camp David with leaders of a radical group that has killed thousands of Americans since the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan would have been a sensational diplomatic gambit, on par with Trump’s agreements with the once-reclusive North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. A senior government official declared the meeting had been organized for Monday, just two days before the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, which were planned from Afghanistan and led to the United States’ invasion of the country.
Trump’s statement also appears to scuttle his longstanding hope to pass on a campaign hope to withdraw American troops from an 18-year conflict that he has called an aimless boondoggle.