United States President Donald Trump on Saturday said that he canceled a secret weekend meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghanistan leaders. Donald Trump called off the meeting after a bombing in the past week in Kabul that killed 12 people. The victims of the bombing also included an American soldier. Ever since the incident Trump has called off peace negotiations with the insurgent group. In a series of tweets Trump announced that he called of the meeting.
Trump's tweet was surprising because it would mean that the president was ready to host members of the Taliban at the presidential retreat in Maryland. This comes just days before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. More than 2,400 U.S. troops have been killed since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to go after the Taliban. The Taliban was also harboring Al-Qaida leaders responsible for 9/11.
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. They were coming to the United States tonight. Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2019
....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
....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?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 7, 2019
Canceling the talks also goes against Trump's pledge to withdraw the remaining 13,000 to 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan and close U.S. involvement in the conflict that is closing in on 18 years. Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump administration's diplomat talking to the Taliban leaders for months, has said recently that he was on the "threshold" of an agreement with the Taliban aimed at ending America's longest war. The President, however, has been under pressure from the Afghan government and some lawmakers, including Trump supporter Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who mistrust the Taliban and think it's too early to withdraw American forces.
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 during U.S.-Taliban talks. The Defense Department says Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, 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.
It remains unclear if the U.S.-Taliban talks are over or only paused. Trump said he called off the peace negotiations after the bombing. However, Khalilzad the U.S. envoy negotiating with the Taliban was meeting with leaders of the insurgent group in Doha, Qatar. The meeting took place on Thursday and Friday. The State Department and the White House declined to respond to requests for clarification.