Washington: US President Donald Trump has called off a ‘secret’ summit with Taliban leaders and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani after the insurgent group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier. The move is a significant blow to months-long negotiations that were nearing a peace agreement.
In a series of tweets Saturday, the US President disclosed that he was to meet the Afghan president and senior Taliban leaders Sunday at his Camp David retreat. But he cancelled the meeting after the Taliban admitted it was behind a suicide car bomb attack Thursday that killed an American soldier and 11 others in the capital of Kabul.
“Unbeknownst to almost everyone, the major Taliban leaders and, separately, the President of Afghanistan, were going to secretly meet with me at Camp David, Sunday. They were coming to the United States tonight,” Donald Trump tweeted.
“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. I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations,” Donald Trump added.
“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 further said.
Trump’s move comes after nine rounds of talks between the US and Taliban representatives, held in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
Trump’s US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad had announced Monday a peace deal ‘in principle’ with the Taliban. As part of the proposed deal, the US would withdraw 5,400 troops from Afghanistan within 20 weeks. However Khalilzad said final approval still rested with Trump. The US currently has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan.
“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,” Trump asserted. “How many more decades are they willing to fight?”
Inviting Taliban leaders onto American soil was an unprecedented move and a significant development in America’s longest running war just days from the anniversary of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CNN said.