U.S. President Donald Trump shocked observers by scrapping a surprise meeting with high-ranking Taliban officials. It was to be held Sunday at the Camp David presidential retreat outside Washington.
CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.
For about a year, U.S. officials have been negotiating a limited peace deal with the Taliban. The broad strokes would see the U.S. withdraw some troops. In exchange, the Taliban would commit to not backing international terrorists or allow Afghanistan to be used as a base to launch attacks on Western targets.
Trump said he backed out of the deal after a Taliban attack in Kabul killed a U.S. service member.
“When the Taliban tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside of the country, President Trump made the right decision to say that’s not going to work,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said.
Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden used Taliban-controlled Afghanistan to launch attacks against the U.S. on September 11, 2001. The U.S. went to war with the Taliban, but nearly 18 years later the conflict has morphed into a grinding military stalemate.
Trump campaigned on ending the war. There are about 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan—roughly, six thousand more than when he took office. The idea of holding a secret presidential meeting with Taliban officials just a few days before the 9-11 anniversary is drawing criticism.
“Well, I don’t ever want to see – again, as we head into the anniversary of 9/11 – I do not ever want to see these terrorists step foot on United States soil. Period,” said Mike Waltz, U.S Congressman.
On Sunday, the Taliban released a statement.
“This will lead to more losses to the U.S. Its credibility will be affected, its anti-peace stance will be exposed to the world, losses to lives and assets will increase,” Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban Spokesman
The U.S. has recalled its special envoy for Taliban negotiations and U.S led peace talks are currently on hold The Afghan government wasn’t part of the negotiations but hope to now have a role in the peace process.
“Any future path toward peace has to be based on the will of the Afghan people, it should be Afghan led, and it should be owned by and led by the Afghan government,” said Sediq Seddiqi Afghan Presidential Spokesman