Afghan Govt. Says US-Taliban Talks Appear Stopped For Now
The Afghan government announced on Sunday that it believes negotiations between US and Taliban will not continue “at this stage” after President Donald Trump said he canceled a secret weekend meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghan leaders.
Trump in a series of tweets cited a bombing in the past week in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
Canceling the talks also goes against Trump’s pledge to withdraw the remaining 13,000 to 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan and end US involvement in a conflict that is closing in on 18 years.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration’s peace envoy in talks with Taliban leaders for months, said less than a week ago that a deal had been reached “in principle” with the group on ending US's longest war and that it only needed Trump’s approval.
The president, however, came under increased pressure from the Afghan government and some US lawmakers, including Trump supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who mistrust the Taliban and think it’s too early to withdraw American troops.
“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.
“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,” he added.
On Thursday, a Taliban car bomb exploded and killed a US soldier, a Romanian service member and 10 civilians near the US Embassy in Kabul, according to AP.
Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, was the fourth US service member killed in the past two weeks in Afghanistan.
“What kind of people would kill so many in order to seemingly strengthen their bargaining position? They didn’t, they only made it worse!” Trump said in another tweet.
“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?”
Meanwhile, Reuters reported a Taliban statement on Sunday threatening that the cancellation of talks will lead to further loss of US Lives and assets.
"The Americans will suffer more than anyone else for cancelling the talks," Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said.