Trump cancels secret US meeting with Afghan Taliban
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US President is still looking at various options and has not decided on troop withdrawal yet.
US President Donald Trump called off a secret summit with Taliban leaders and his Afghan counterpart as the terror group failed to live up to a series of commitments and overreached with a car bomb attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.
Trump in a series of tweets on Saturday disclosed that he was to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and senior Taliban leaders on 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 had killed an American soldier and 11 others in the capital of Kabul. dealing a significant blow to months-long negotiations that were nearing a peace agreement.
....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? They didn’t, they....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2019
Pompeo said the Trump administration has recalled envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been negotiating with Taliban leaders for months in Qatar, and it will be up to the insurgent group whether talks will resume.
“We (the US and the Taliban) have been fighting and talking in a way that America often doesn't do. It's what's driven us to be able to have the success at the negotiating table that we were beginning to have. But we finally reached a point where we were close (to enter a deal),” Pompeo told ABC News.
“We'd made real progress and then the Taliban failed to live up to a series of series of commitments that they had made. And when that (latest terrorist strike that killed one US soldier) happened, President Trump said I'm not going to take that deal, I'm not going to work with someone that can't deliver on their commitments,” Pompeo said.
Trump's move comes after nine rounds of talks between the US and Taliban representatives, held in Doha.
The proposed deal, Pompeo said, was "just a piece of paper". “We have to actually see that change in behaviour. And when we saw this activity, when we saw this action when we were closing in on a solution and closing in on opportunity for the president to actually meet with the decision makers that can actually deliver that reconciliation and peace to the Afghan people, President Trump said that's enough, we're not going to do that, we're not going to reward that behaviour and broke it off,’ the top American diplomat explained.
Pompeo said that the US President is still looking at various options and has not decided on troop withdrawal yet. “The president hasn't made a decision on that yet. We'll be talking about that in the coming day. President Trump has been very clear, we spend, goodness over USD30 billion a year in Afghanistan. As you well know, we have terror threats from lots of parts of the world, not just from Afghanistan unfortunately,” he said.
Trump has canceled a trip to Denmark, a trip to Poland, and peace negotiations with the Taliban to play golf. All within the past month. https://t.co/noT9OcvopN— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) September 8, 2019
“There are still challenges -- ISIS is there as well. But President Trump is going to focus with secretary of defence. They will think about making sure that we have the right force posture to deliver on the president's objectives to protect America from terror threats everywhere they emanate from, including Afghanistan. And we'll have to make the decision about what right force posture in Afghanistan will be going forward,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo said, the US will conduct a mission in Afghanistan in a way that reduces risk to the American people -- the right number, the force posture, the nature of the forces, and continuing to train and assist mission for Afghan forces, so they can take the fight to the Taliban such that we can ultimately get the peace and reconciliation.
Responding to a question on the peace talks with the Taliban, Pompeo said that they had made “enormous progress” over the last months working with the Afghan government of national unity, other Afghans as well as with the Taliban.
But the Administration got to protect American national security interests so that terror can never strike again from Afghanistan, at the same time reduce America's treasure and blood.
Breathtaking. There’s always a Trump tweet, Taliban editon. pic.twitter.com/NDVidFwOGz— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 7, 2019
“We have been making progress. We've had a commitment from the Taliban that said that they would break with Al Qaeda publicly and permanently, we had a commitment that said that they would reduce violence or that they would for the first time. You were in an administration that tried to get Afghans to sit at the table together,” he said.
“We had a commitment that they would meet in Oslo to begin reconciliation conversation. And then the Taliban overreached. They killed an American in an effort to gain leverage at the negotiating table. And President Trump said enough,” Pompeo said.